The Spirit of Virginia Tech
by Jordan Plahn | Virginia Tech
In the aftermath of a tragedy hitting somewhere so important to you, little can be said or done to quell the emotions. When the feeling of a day can be forever changed in the span of minutes, emotions are thrown into turmoil. As the site of the infamous April 16th shootings, Virginia Tech knows all too well the pain that one event can bring.
Nobody expects his or her school to experience the tragedy that so few have endured, much less twice in the same tight knit community. The realization that your home and family have once more been thrust into the depths of anguish places so much of your life into a clearer focus. I woke up worrying about final exams and my GPA; I go to sleep with a heavy heart and the understanding that my school has once again been forced to suffer the unthinkable.
Much like any other day, I woke up and began studying. Much like any other day, I also went to eat lunch on campus. Yet, unlike any other day, I was forced to comprehend that something was utterly wrong. My friends and I arrived at the parking lot surrounded by dozens of police cars, still unsure what had happened. We stepped out of the car to the sound of a campus-wide siren, knowing that something was horribly wrong but still uncertain as to the magnitude. Walking mere footsteps from the car, we came upon the first crime scene. Having just been responded to, the sight of the first shooting was still a scene of confusion. The realization that we were mere minutes removed from this fatality was cruelly unsettling. The fact that a few minutes change in our schedule may have fundamentally altered our lives is a brutal feeling to contend with.
At around 2:30 p.m., Twitter erupted with a flurry of comments claiming that two suspects had begun firing rounds in the center of campus. Never have I experienced the sudden despair and helplessness that accompanies the realization that fellow students were being attacked mere miles away. Yet, fortunately, such reports were unfounded and completely false. But simply believing that shooting was occurring in a location that we walk through every day was incredibly disconcerting and a feeling that I hope will never be experienced for real. Sadly, some members of our community have suffered those feelings. Now we can only hope to show the unrivaled strength and compassion that past Hokies exuded throughout that terrible time.
People the world over will lend their commentary on the situation; some will likely chide the University as a whole and cast reproachable statements over the entire student body. It takes mere seconds on social media to see some of the derisive comments that are hurled towards Virginia Tech. In spite of this, the support that has been shown now and on April 16th crushes any dwindling criticism that may exist. And for this, we are exceedingly grateful. Is Virginia Tech cursed to have suffered events like this twice? No. We’re blessed to have a community of individuals that transcend classroom walls and grow with one another through immeasurable adversity, such as we had today. Words cannot describe the range of emotions that every member of the community experienced today. Yet, we all know that our greatest support system is a fellow Hokie.
What more can be said? A tragedy like this shakes the very foundations of those involved. Heartache over the senseless loss of life is slow to heal. Details will emerge that may provide limited closure, but nothing can fully repress the feelings of grief that will permeate the community for the foreseeable future. In such a state of confusion and sadness, little can be said that is coherent to the outside world. Nobody can explain why this has happened again. Nothing can be done to relieve the intense emotions that we all feel. I will simply take solace in the fact that for the next week I will be surrounded by those that feel exactly as I do and understand the emotions that few others can.Jordan Plahn is an NGJ Voices Contributor and a sophomore Engineering Science and Mechanics major at Virginia Tech. He has lived overseas for 12 years of his life and likes to bring an international perspective to his life and writing.