Myself and Crysty, my college room mate and great friend, got up early for Bio-chem. Our teacher was an older fella that was very laid back. About mid way through class we hear yelling and running. A lot of the class gets up to look out the windows, myself included, we see SWAT teams running with rifles drawn and with those huge metal things in front of them like a shield. (please know this is very hard to type out, and this is all through tears) Then the intercom comes on, and this is the first time it had been put into use, so it was like a cell phone with bad signal. It kept saying stay where you are, stay inside, take cover, etc.....OVER AND OVER AGAIN. My teacher told us we could leave if we wanted to......Which we all thought it was like the first day of school that year, when there was an escaped inmate on campus and cops were searching for him. Yes, the very first day of my senior year there was a man on the loose on campus, and driving to school we saw black unmarked vehicles everywhere, drawn rifles, cops with rifles lining 460....it was crazy and scary. But on this day myself and Crysty both thought 'its just another crazy person on campus.' Little did we know the extend of the damage.
We left class, rather than staying locked in there. As we walked to my little Tibiron the sirens were still going off LOUDLY, still not hearing every word. Then we heard gun shots, and more gun shots. After getting in the car we drove to leave campus and went down by the drill field where state troopers cars and ambulances lined the drilled field. People were jumping out of the windows of Norris Hall, they were dragging people out of the building.....then that dreaded chained BLUE DOOR. At that moment I don't know how I felt, scared, sad, unknown. We proceeded to leave campus and was pulled over by cops by the dairy farm, where they proceeded to tell us to get out of my car, and they had to search us and my whole car before leaving campus.
As we got back to the apartment, we sat in silence with our animals, all 5 of them. We didn't have cable because we both worked, so we turned on the radio to try to figure out WHAT was going on. I stared at my old school pink razor as texts were not going through, calls weren't going through, and we knew this had hit the news and our families were probably thinking the worst..... AND.... they couldn't get through to us. All I wanted to do was call my mom and brother and tell them I WAS OKAY, and I was safe. The radio begin to come with news on the Virginia Tech campus.....the first body count was 5. As we sat in our apartment living room floors just in silence, the number count just went up and up and up.
Our neighbor then came over to check on us, he was going to go to class that day, but he said "something told me not to." Later that day he found out that was his German class.
In the mist of tears and anger I couldn't help but question many things. Why that building? What those classes? Why those students and teachers? Should I feel lucky I wasn't in that building? What if it was my class room? What would I have done in the that situation? Many questions I still ask, but never have the answer to.
It took HOURS to be able to talk to my mom, brother, sister, and Dawn. The relief in their voices is something I will never forget, like most of this day.
Blacksburg was a ghost town, only cop cars and ambulances were the noises that were heard, they were in place of laughs and college students having happy conversations. Strangers hugged strangers, we were all in a shock, BUT we were all there for one another as a HOKIE NATION.
We decided to attend the conference where President Bush came to speak the very next day. I had to sit in the stands for this, and it was AMAZING as the field was covered in students and staff all dressed in orange and maroon. After this we decided to walk the campus, a very morbid campus. As we got to the drill field it was hard to walk across to see Morris Hall, our neighbor couldn't go across the drill field. I could never and still can not imagine what he was going through knowing that that was his classmates. The news dubbed this as a 'massacre' of all words why such a one that would be imbedded in one FOREVER?
That night was the candle light vigil. The support from everyone that night was amazing. "We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness. We are the Hokies. We will prevail. We will prevail. We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech!" -Nikki Giovanni (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-Qx9dIr-68)
I go back to that word Massacre.... why such a horrible word? why? I opted to go home to try to take my mind off this day. How my first choice school, a school I dreamed to go to since 7th grade had been brought to its knees.... Being with friends and family took things off my mind a little. Well until that one day I was at home alone, I was leaving to meet up with some friends. As I walked into the garage, our neighbor decided to have target practice. I had a melt down at the sounds of gun fire, I was almost in the fetal position on the concrete floor with Pugsly in tears on the phone with mom yelling to call them to tell them to stop. It was something I wasn't ready to deal with, and I never knew I would be effected in that way, but I was. I was afraid to leave my own home. The sound of each shot stunned me and made me jump in fear.
A month later was graduation. I decided to come home and work for my vet office before going into the real world. I will never forget two days that happened during that month and a half. One: I was assisting with a tumor surgery, and once the removal began there was a blood splatter on the wall, and one of the tech said 'wow that looks like a massacre.' I had to remove myself from the room and have a mini breakdown in the bathroom. Two: A clients last name was Cho, I couldn't be in the room with that person, and also had a mini break down.
Now two years after this day I helped with a career day at an elementary school. We were talking about careers and colleges. I asked a little girl what school she wanted to go to, and her response is one that I will NEVER NEVER NEVER forget and it hits me to the bone "I don't want to go to Virginia Tech, because I don't want to die." Things like this I'm sure have happened to more than just me as how people perceive VT. Guess what crazy people are everywhere, it can happen anywhere, and yes it happened to my school. But we can't let it hold us down. Please teach your kids that just because a tragedy happened, it doesn't make a place unsafe. Please be aware how you bring up a subject matter such as this, because you never know whom is effected and how they are effected by it.
In today's time: That dreaded blue door, is no longer blue. I can now stand the sound of gun fire and even shoot guns now, but every once and awhile the sound will take me right back to that campus. The sound of "keep holding on" I will still tear up. The breakdowns have stopped, but I still cry and hurt for this day and my campus. As I say it gets easier, but it will never go away.
My reason for sharing this is to help everyone understand, that as a student there and being on campus that day, we deal with it in different ways. I hate for people to see me upset and crying. The pain has gotten easier, but it hasn't gone away. It's not easy. This day will forever be embedded in me, certain moments, phrases, names will always have a hurting effect on me because of this horrible day. I don't expect you to understand my pain, and why I am upset today. I just hope more people have the respect to speak of this in a meaningful manner. Maybe give someone you don't know a smile today. Let's make this world a nicer place, because you don't know who may be hurting and may need a little sunshine let in their life to make it seem slightly better.
WE ARE VIRGINIA TECH, AND WE HAVE PREVAILED!!!!
Myself on the drill field the day after. image by Crysty
Image by Crysty at the candleligit vigil
I grabbed these off my Myspace: this was my view of Lane Stadium
Myself and Dawn at the vigil
Myself and Crysty