This post is not meant to be a news break, everyone knows about the tragedy that hit Blacksburg. I just felt I needed to react to it. Obviously what happened was a horrible event. I just can’t understand how one person can hurt so many people. This man has affected so many families for the rest of their lives. It seems like it’s the child no one ever expects, who comes from the happy family. All of these kids had one thing in common, they were psycho. An event like this is scary because it makes you realize that it can literally happen anywhere. If it happened in a beautiful college town like Blacksburg then why couldn’t something like this happen at Rutgers or Middlesex? What’s even worse is that something like this happens every couple years. School shootings, while tragic, do not have the shock they had when Columbine happened. There have been too many. Things like this can happen anywhere, something needs to be done. — Pete

I would just like to add my own thoughts to what Pete already said. There are multiple ways to look at the situation, as I recognized today while watching hours and hours of cable news coverage. The most common seems to be finding a villain or multiple villains and blaming them. As humans, we have a need to place blame when something goes wrong. The media is currently pushing the “freaky loner” story for the gunman, but do not believe everything you hear. A writer for the Washington Post gave some insight into the situation, saying that the hundreds of reporters on campus were hounding students for stories. People enjoy archetypal stories, he said, and so every single question the reporters asked were very pointed into making sure he fit the mold. From what I could tell, before all of the English class paper issues arose, he was supposed to be just a pretty quiet kid. Clearly he was a sick human being, but before the journalists started asking leading questions like “Did you notice that he kept to himself mostly?” the reports were that he wasn’t too odd. As the story has gone on, small details of his life have been painting a picture of the kid, but that picture has a spin. If you were to ask people around here who do not know me at all, they might tell you I spend a lot of time by myself, and that I never really talk to anyone. I also have a history of playing video games, many of them with violent themes, since many great video games have been violent in some way. And in fact, I recently wrote a story in Creative Writing that dealt with death. I don’t have the mental illnesses that the killer clearly suffered from in this case, but I use my own normal life to show you that the people you talk to for information and the angle at which you approach a subject can really give a completely skewed view of an individual. Don’t believe everything you hear on the TV news, because they know America needs a bad guy and they’ll give America what they want. Of course, I am NOT implying that this young man wasn’t sick. He was a horrible, horrible person whose incredible selfishness and sickness led to one of the most terrible tragedies in American history. What I am saying is that the media can make a square peg fit into a round hole if it’s what the viewers want. The other villain people are trying to pin some blame on is the administration of the university. They’ve been criticized by the press for not properly responding to the initial violence. This is truly a senseless enemy. Why would we attack VT authorities for their actions? There is no doubt that they act with the best interest of the students in mind. They are not some corrupt organization who can gain off the loss, they’re people strongly connected with those who were lost. They’re reeling in the wake of the attack just like the rest of us, and picking on them really can accomplish nothing.

Gripes like that aside, I feel that the most important thing to do, before the gun control debates and the remodeling of emergency alert systems and the finger pointing and the influx of counselors, is to spend some time thinking about those lost. We need to honor each of them individually and as a whole, and we need to give them the respect they deserve. This horrifying tragedy will undoubtedly be used to push the personal agendas of politicians and authority figures in general, but before all of that we need to stop and reflect. As Pete said, this can happen anywhere. The kids who died were just that, kids. They were our age. They were college students going to class in a small town. They had dreams and plans and relationships and full lives ahead of them, and they were cut down senselessly. It makes me sick to my stomach every time I think about that. I’m not ashamed to admit that I found myself in tears watching a father talk about his daughter today on CNN, because this situation is so real and hits so close to home for all college students. The realization that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed is one of those awful thoughts that gets trapped in your head and can bring your whole day down. But every so often, its important to think about that, get introspective, and relate it to your own life. The most important thing this story can bring about is not gun control laws or new emergency systems. It is that everyone takes some time to reflect on themselves, think about what they really value in their own life, and be thankful for them. It is hard to do, and may take some serious alone time to really achieve. But tonight, when you lay down in bed, think about the kids who died. Think about what was taken from them, and about the families and friends who will now have to deal with that absence, and take inventory of what you still have. In doing this, you are paying them the respect that they deserve. — Tom


The thoughts and prayers of us here at 41MTF, Rutgers, Middlesex, New Jersey, and all of America are with the family and friends of those lost in the Virginia Tech tragedy of 4/16/07. We express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Hokie nation and the great loss they’ve suffered.

Image from the Rutgers University in Support of Virginia Tech Facebook group