April 16 is a day of remembrance for me. Ten years ago, my beloved alma mater, Virginia Tech, was rocked with the worst mass shooting in US history (until the 2016 nightclub shooting in Orlando). Thirty-two people died and seventeen more were wounded, innocents who did nothing wrong except to be in the incorrect place when a mentally deranged person decided to take their lives. For better or worse, VT will always be associated with this horrific massacre.
I was well gone from Blacksburg by 2007. What I remember about Virginia Tech is that it is one of those remote universities sitting in a lovely college town surrounded by mountains. It was a generally peaceful and happy place where people didn’t even lock their doors. Students studied, partied, went to sporting events, and otherwise engaged in the typical college activities of a large state university. For me personally, it was a place where I got my act together. I have great and cherished memories of VT.
It was inconceivable that a massacre of this nature could happen in this lovely part of the world. I’m saddened today. I remember the victims and their families, and I wish them comfort and peace. God bless them.
But I’m also heartened by VT. This was a university community that could have buckled under the pressure of such a horrific crime, but instead rallied and grew closer and stronger. I still remember the shrill pundits on TV proclaiming a horrible future for VT. But those pundits looked so bad when juxtaposed against the televised interviews of young VT students, who were poised and eloquent in their thoughts on this incomprehensible occurrence. I was crushed emotionally for all the families who lost loved ones, and for the families that had students that were not injured but who clearly spent a period of time panicked about their own children. Yet I was so proud of the students who stood tall and who reacted in measured and controlled ways.
The whole event rattled me. I listened to Springsteen’s “The Rising” a lot in the aftermath. He wrote that album to try and cope with 9/11. I had been in DC on 9/11 and saw the smoke coming from the Pentagon, a place where I used to work and where one of my buddy’s brothers got a bronze star for heroism on that tragic day, but somehow the VT thing impacted me more personally and in a more direct way. I don’t know why, and perhaps it is wrong, but that is the truth. I thank the Boss for helping me with rousing songs of triumph and hopefulness, coupled with songs of sadness and incomprehensibility.
As you go about your day, take the time to remember those students and professors who senselessly lost their lives. Remember the American spirit of not succumbing to disaster, but instead, moving forward into a new future to overcome whatever present day adversity is present. And listen to “Lonesome Day.”
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.