Yesterday a gunman took 32 lives at Virginia Tech in what they’re calling the worst such shooting spree in history. For now, anyway.
Every day I work on a university campus with a lot of young people very much like the ones caught up in yesterday’s tragedy, so this news hits close to home. I’ve also had dealings with Tech’s engineering program, so I know the victims were among the best and brightest of their generation. Three professors were also lost, each internationally renowned experts in their fields and one a Holocaust survivor.
I guess that’s what’s hardest about this kind of thing: not only did we lose children, parents, friends, but also all the untold, unrealized contributions these talented individuals might have made to mankind. All thanks to some walking sack of crap who could’ve done the world a favor by using the first bullet on himself, instead of the last. Like 9/11, it’s the lopsidedness of the loss that hurts the most; the fact that so few lowlifes can take so many good people with them.
The ordeal is only beginning for the town of Blacksburg, which has endured this initial tragedy only to begin the long ordeal of satellite trucks and cameras as the hoards of media vultures swoop down to clog their streets, at least until the next celebrity bimbo drops dead or some athlete kills his wife. Brian Williams and Katie Couric practically knocked each other down trying to get there first to offer their patented crocodile tears and somber head-shaking.
Not that I’m totally immune to ghoulish curiosity, mind you. Already I’ve Googled the two faculty members and perused their webpages, still residing unchanged on the Tech servers as the last piece of their lives untouched by what happened, until a webmaster gets around to adding a eulogy or taking them down altogether. As the names of the students are released, will I resist the tempation to look them up on MySpace?
For what it’s worth, I offer my support and sympathy to the students, faculty and staff of Virginia Tech. And I plan to hug my kids a little bit tighter when I get home each day, remembering there’s 30 sets of parents out there who won’t get that pleasure again.