I walked into the conference room two weeks ago for a regular staff meeting. Someone pulled up the agenda, and pit formed in my stomach as I read “active shooter training.” I avoid active shooter training whenever possible, and I prepared myself for what I would do. The CSPD officer who works as our campus liaison pulled up his PowerPoint. After a brief introduction including commenting on how unlikely being on campus for an active shooter actually was, he advanced the slides. As I looked at the familiar “VT Thanks You” photo, he said, “Let’s talk about Virginia Tech.” I quickly walked out of the room and found myself crying on the back stairs of Cutler Hall. What was a routine training for many was a stark return to a deeply emotional memory for me.
10 years. How has it been ten years? As the anniversary of April 16th approached, I found myself in disbelief that it has already been ten years since that day. It’s funny how your memory works: many days become a blur while others stand out, every moment as vivid as yesterday. April 16th is one of those days for me. I can remember basically every single detail. The confusion, the shock, the horror, the pain. Each year, these emotions wash over me again and again. The tenth anniversary is notable, so social media has been overflowing with articles about then and now. For those of us who were there, reading and watching is a way to heal and to remember.
This year is especially poignant. A decade of remembrance falling on the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. A time to honor 32 lives taken too soon while praising God for sending Jesus to die for our sins and save us from death. The juxtaposition is not lost on me, and I find comfort in the words from Isaiah we sang in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, performed a year later at a memorial concert (start at 20:00 to listen to this passage).
Therefore the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech. Live for 32.