Saturday, December 10, 2011

always remember. neVer forgeT

Hello folks, thank you for being here today (this is not a sermon, promise, or a homily for that matter).  I know I have been absent for a few weeks, but I just wanted to share some thoughts today regarding events from this week.  I apologize that this is neither Catholic-related nor a problem, but I feel that it is important to read because most of my followers are in college or are applying to college.

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.

It is sad to realize that the school I know and love is just known for gun violence and a football team.  It is with great optimism and hope that you all see it as so much more than that.  Virginia Tech is a senior military academy, whose cadets chose a pathway to serve and protect this country and will become this nation's military leaders.  It is a center of research in all fields of learning that will impact us is the near future, be it health care, industry, agriculture, or business.  It is a place that helps under-served populations locally and world-wide.  It is a place where students learn to stand tall, proud of where they have been and anxious to know where they will go. 

The media, however, loves to sensationalize any event that occurs on our campus.  They want to extend the tragedy that occurred 4 years ago in hopes that we are still reeling from that pain.  As far as I know, what happened on Thursday was not a psychiatric aftermath of April 16, 2007.  I feel like the media has done a disservice to other colleges and universities around the country.  If this were to occur on any other campus, there would not have been a 5 hour long CNN coverage special, but this is Virginia Tech, and this kind of yellow journalism occurs.  There have been many events such as this on other campuses around the country, but these schools never got the attention and awareness they deserved.  These schools need our prayers too.   

I know full well that we will be made victims for years to come.  I know that when we play the University of Michigan in the Sugar Bowl on January 3rd, there will be some sad sappy reference to the tragedies on our campus.  But I also know that the Hokie Nation will be descending upon New Orleans with pride and optimism.  I know that the heart of the Hokie Spirit will beat as we jump to Enter Sandman when our team comes out.  I know, that more than ever, I will be proud of my school and that Virginia Tech will, once again, rise from adversity to show the world what it means to be a Hokie. I cannot talk about Hokie football without quoting Lee Corso when he said "I don't know what a Hokie is, but I know God is one of them"

I have never once regretted my decision to go to Virginia Tech--not in 2007, not today.  The support I receive from the school's administration and the love I receive from fellow students is more than I could even expect from any other campus in the country.  It is knowing how we each feel, and knowing how to support each other that makes me proud to be an Alumna.  I proudly wear my orange and maroon today to support my school and to support this incredible community. Ever since I got to grad school, I always hear, "what's so great about Tech?".  

Well, what isn't?

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