I would like to thank each and every one of you for your thoughts and prayers during the ordeal at Virginia Tech on Thursday. It was incredibly moving to see all of your tweets supporting so many students that you may or may not know at a campus hundreds of miles away from yours. Please know that your actions and words did not go unnoticed. Our Virginia Tech family stands proudly for our school because we have your emotional support to hold us up.
Having been a student there during the first shooting, Thursday brought back a lot of traumatic memories. Even moreso, my boyfriend and two of my cousins are currently students there. Within minutes of getting the news, I was able to reach them and confirm their safety. It was so much more comforting after knowing they were in secure locations, as I had so much trouble reaching my friends in 2007. Let it be known that social media place an enormous role that day.
It was disheartening, however, to read comments on how the school should just close. It was devastating to hear students say they are crossing Virginia Tech off their list of schools they are applying to. If you let senseless acts of violence scare you away from getting the education that you deserve, you let fear win. If you are going to allow a random act to decide your future, you just aren't Hokie material. If I learned one thing from my four years in Blacksburg, it is that this Hokie Spirit business is not for the faint of heart and it is certainly not a victim of any tragedy. The aftermath of the shootings in 2007 and how my classmates responded showed me that when a heart breaks, it rebuilds stronger than it was before. It is stronger so that you cannot be scared by the next tragedy and you have the strength to help someone else. The lessons I have learned has taught me to grow up sooner than I had expected, it taught me to value everything in life, and and it taught me the importance to carry on the legacy of the lives we have lost.
There is a beautiful quote circulating all of social media regarding our Hokie Spirit:
"From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it. Virginia Tech is more than a school... It's my home and my family".
For anyone who criticizes the safety of our school and bad luck we have, they probably have never been in Blacksburg and probably have never met anyone from Virginia Tech. This school was my home for 4 years and I have missed being in Blacksburg ever since. I know that whenever I return, it will be with open arms. The Hokie Spirit is more than school spirit. It is a sense of security. This sense of security only existed through our Police Department, the Town of Blacksburg, Montgomery County Sheriff, and Virginia State Police. Officer Crouse died in the line of duty. He died protecting us. We are honored for his service to our community and humbled that, even with his many accomplishments in law enforcement, he came to serve a college campus in a sleepy old town. Thank you, Officer Crouse, for your commitment to our school and to our students.