Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hits close to home

I'm not sure there's any reason to add my voice to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of others all around the globe talking about the shootings yesterday, and yet I'm compelled to all the same.

Part of me wonders what there is to say that hasn't been said already. I mean, we know the words: tragedy, rampage, senseless violence, massacre, needless loss of human life.

But, like any other struggle, be it mental or physical, personal or just taken personally, I find writing helps make sense of what can't otherwise be explained.

I didn't find out about the news until late in the afternoon. I had just woken up from what is quickly becoming a daily pregnancy habit of an afternoon nap and went to my computer -- a much more established habit. When I refreshed my homepage, the words "Shooting rampage at Virginia Tech" filled the screen.

For a brief moment, the world stopped. I don't recall having any immediate thoughts other than feeling overwhelmingly upset. Upset that the weapons we have invented enable anyone with time, money and an agenda to play God.

I clicked on the link and immersed myself in the few details that were available at the time, then I jumped to another news site, then another and another.

One of the most vivid memories that will stay with me isn't any individual photo or eyewitness account, but the overwhelming coverage provided by the students and faculty themselves. It is absolutely amazing to me that we live in such a technologically savvy era that a teenager outside the building was able to pull out his cell phone and capture video of police swarming the grounds while the sound of 22 gunshots can be heard in the distance.

As I spent the rest of the afternoon glued to the unfolding details of the case, I found myself wishing that I didn't have the night off. Not only did I want access to the dozens of stories and images that The Associated Press moved, but like any other historic moment in U.S. history that I have been alive to witness, triumphant or tragic, I wanted to be a part of it. I guess that instinct is what drove me into the news business in the first place.

When my mother called a few hours later, she voiced the one fear I hadn't allowed myself time to process.

"When you send your children to school, you worry constantly about so many things," she said. "But this? There are no words. I can't even imagine what those families are going through."

And that's it. That's the heart of it. America has invented a type of violence that hasn't really been replicated anywhere else: Someone with a point to prove collects ammo and opens fire in a densely populated area, most often schools or malls. And the families and friends of the innocent victims are left with nothing but questions that likely won't ever be answered.

My fear is that it's only going to get worse. Now other confused adolescents and adults who feel that the world has wronged them have another story of inspiration. Another death toll to beat. Another anniversary to mark.

It scares me to no end.

Because I have a little heart beating inside me.

And I never want to know what those parents are going through.


Julie said...

And I pray you never ever have to find out.

Anonymous said...

I live in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Its a town that will forever be known as the place that two boys opened fire on a group of middle school children. I lost a friend in that shooting. We were both 12. I came home from school and my mother told she was gone. (I didnt go to Westside.) I asked her why someone would kill such innocent people. She said, "Baby I dont know. I just don't know." We still dont know today. And one of those boys is free, the other to be released soon. It angers me, and still scares me to this day.

the plainsman said...

Yes, Kelly, sad to fear there may be copycats.

Acts of violence have been a part of the human condition for as long as man existed, and the scary part is that in life there are no guarantees that we or our loved ones will see tomorrow, despite our best efforts, despite all protections we may have devised.

Are we any safer after all the new laws and security measures introduced after 9/11? I think not. Opportunists will jump to use this tragedy for more laws on everything from the obvious like guns, to limits on immigration and creating an Orwellian inspired surveiled world.

It does not make a difference if particular weapons did not exist, for those bent on killing, using their own human ingenuity and knowledge, will devise other ways, much as they did centuries ago.

The real danger is from a warped human mind that believes the solution is in killing, whether for perceived revenge or a notion that will gain them access into heaven.

So obviously we take sensible precautions, we take them every day. But we do not, can not live in daily fear of a random act of violence any more than we live in constant fear of an accident or overnight disaster.

This sad day is a reminder to remember to love and hold those most close to us in our hearts and let them know it every opportunity we are able.

We get our strength to carry on, to give our kids wings from the love of those closest to us, our families, our friends.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Blacksburg. My family lives there. Many of my high school and church friends live in the building where the first shooting occurred. Being away at another college I heard about it by the news when I went to eat lunch at a dining hall. I saw my friends' dorm highlighted and my heart sank. My mother goes walking in the mornings around the drillfield to which Norris Hall is adjacent. Circuits were busy and I couldn't even get through on my cell phone to hear my mom's voice to know that my family was ok. And yet, even as I was having some of the scariest moments of my life, I had to face the fact that I was one of the lucky ones. My friends' dorm was the only building that actually went into lockdown so they were safe from the dealier second shooting. My family was safe. I didn't end up having to hear about anyone I loved being shot.I have a feeling we will never know why what happened did, but that's the question that everyone in my town seems to be asking each other. All I can do is pray and recognize that God is in control even in the midst of this mayhem and violence and that he is with me even though my family can't be.

Tiffany said...

So crazy... I think the whole nation is praying for them, I can't even imagine.

Erin said...

My brother goes to school at Radford, which is just down the road (so to speak) from Tech. He knows lots of people from Tech and is often there to party and hang out. Thankfully he's OK and so are his friends. But the whole incident makes me sick, too. What is wrong with people?

Anonymous said...

I hope you will never have to know what those families are going through. I wish they didn't have to know that pain themselves.

I know someone who goes there. He was supposed to be in that building, possibly that class, yesterday. He's a husband and a father. He was late for his class because he had to walk the dog for his wife due to the high winds. He was walking to class when his wife called him and told him to come back, that there was a shooting. He was that close.

www.xanga.com/nothingbeast said...

My station runs AP News at the top of every hour... so even if I don't look for it online, I hear about it.

The worst sentence I heard came from one student's comments:

"I'm from the middle east... and this is the worst i've seen."

What the hell did that mean?

That stuck with me more than anything else I heard.

Janice said...

I think everyone is praying for them at the moment... loads and loads of groups have opened on Facebook and whatnot about it and I pray you never have to find out what that's like.

Kristin said...

It is a sad time in our country when violence like this happens more and more frequently and is no longer an obscure event.

Amy said...

It's horrible that this happened.
It's been on the news all day in

I live in London and we've had a lot
of shooting but this one shocked me.
Why is it always the younger generation that seem to be the target?

A 14 year old boy was killed in London a few weeks ago for no reason.
He was just at the wrong place at
the wrong time.

I don't think this world will ever

Ray said...

Thanks for this post, I was going to write about it. But you do it SO much better than me {maybe i'll write about it later on}. I too was a bit surprised that something like this happened. I can't say "Shocked" because NOTHING in life shocks me. I guess it's just not in my personality.

Anyway, it surprised me because just seven days ago I was recording a documentary about the, "Columbine Shooting" that happened in 1999. And though at the time I was only about ten years old about to be eleven, years later I found out about it. I found out more about it from a book called, "She said yes". A beautiful story about one of the 14 victims of the Columbine shooting that sadly didn't make it. And to this day that story still touches me. I'll always remember Cassie, the girl in the story.

And what's even more crazy is that the "Columbine Shooting's 8th Anniversary" is coming up on the 20th of this month. Just a few short days away. And now here is another tragedy just like the Columbine Shooting, only difference is that it's in a college & that more people died. Some reportings state that 21 people died some say 30. A huge difference if you ask me, I hope to find out the real number soon. And now by next year, it'll be an anniversary of yet another tragedy. So sad, that people feel the need to elimanate others for whatever reason.

I too was shocked when I saw the raw footage off of one of the student's cellphone. THAT, and only that SHOCKED me because it was so real. I mean that person was there through all the chaos and fear. And that's pretty amazing as well as scary.

Take care, Kelly.

Leslie said...

I <3 you Kelly!

Emilee said...

Like many others that have commented, I've lost a friend to school violence. It's something I will never forget.

I'm in high school, and have swiched schools. Where I used to live had metal detectors and the school was basically like a maximum-security prison. All the doors were locked during the day, everyone had to wear their ID's on chains around their necks, you had to go to the bathroom with a little plastic pass and sign out on a clipboard, all for safety. Luckily, nothing every happened.

Now I live in Colorado, and my new high school is so incredibly different. There are no metal detectors, the doors aren't locked. We have one police officer instead of about 10. We don't have to ask to even go to the restroom.

It scares me so much that this happened so close to Columbine's anniversary. Living here, that's what we're all hearing. Columbine happened 8 years ago, the Bailey shooting happened recently, and now this. It's incredible how one human being can devestate a nation. Virginia is the second easiest state to get a gun in, you don't have to register it at all. I feel like...being in high school, we're not safe anymore. Anything can happen. Anyone's life can be taken at any moment. It's so scary to think that the place I learn at and get educated in, can in an instant be torn apart by violence. God Bless all the victims & their families.

Trish said...

I have a 1st grader and a two year old. I know how you feel about that tiny heart beating inside your body right now.
We can't worry ourselves sick, although it is impossible to imagine.

The memory that has stayed with me so far in this tragedy is the talk of the authorities carrying victims bdies outside and their cell phones ringing over and over again.

mercurial scribe said...

This kind of violence wasn't invented here, nor is it unusual sadly enough.

It's hard to see humanity in its fullest... the worry, the hate, the violence, the mourning... One can only pray and pick up the pieces, i suppose.

Anonymous said...

"America has invented a type of violence that hasn't really been replicated anywhere else"

not to diminish the incident in anyway at all, but i have to disagree with this statement. there are people in some hidden pockets of the world who wake up every morning to the sound of missiles and this is an regular occurrence. there have been hundreds with a "point to prove" who have collected ammo to strap onand sacrifice themselves as they detonate in densely populated area -most often schools or malls. this is also an everyday occurrence.

yes my heart bleeds for those were were lost in such a tragic incident, but let us not take for granted anyone's safety whether they live in america, palestine or sudan. tragedy occurs every waking minute of the day just as births do across the world. let's not forget the rest of the world. we must heighten our awareness of these issues not just in our own home but throughout the world because they are indeed tragic no matter where you are living or under what circumstances they have occurred.

thanks for your time.

Anonymous said...

I think what she meant was that no other country has gunmen acting alone, not on behalf of a terrorist organization, using single bullets to spray down individuals in a well-populated area.

Anonymous said...

I was a reader of your xanga, and have followed you onto here. I'm also planning on writing an entry on this, but right now it's too difficult. I'm from Northern VA and that was almost the school that I chose to go to... but opted for one 2 hours instead of 4 away from my house. Half of my high school's graduating class goes to Tech. My best friend goes there too. I was so worried about the news, I wrote to my friends that I didn't call and consistently checked my email for any word from them. Luckily, the only people shot and/or killed were friends of friends... until one of my friends dating back from elementary school through gradeschool told me of his experience. He was taking a test one floor above, finished early, went to leave, found the doors chained shut, and was walking around to find another way out. Luckily he went back to his classroom seconds before the shooting started & they were able to lock themselves in a teacher's office. I just can't believe all of this has happened, it's taking awhile for the reality of it all to hit... (guesswhoitsale)