Where were you on April 16, 2007?
When the news started running confused, chaotic footage captured by student cell phones that morning, what were you doing? Do you remember?
Hokies remember everything about that day with greater clarity than most Americans experience when thinking about 9/11. They probably won’t ever forget what they did the night before, what they were wearing that morning, what their final words were to friends they would never see again.
Long after graduation, long after major life events like marriage and children, Hokies will remain bound together by the actions of a single person on a single day. There will be no forgetting, nor should there be.
Yesterday, we were all Hokies. We said it in our Facebook stati and our IM away messages. We wore maroon and orange and stood outside George Washington Hall at noon while the bell rang 32 times, once for every Virginia Tech student killed one year ago yesterday.
But no matter how high our own emotions run we will not be able to come close to the levels of grief, loss, sadness and anxiety that flooded the Blacksburg campus yesterday.
Yesterday was a day of mourning at Virginia Tech. Campus life stopped and, for just a day, students quit trying to “move on.”
For just a day, life didn’t rush madly by while unimaginable loss lurked in the background.
We can sympathize and we can empathize with those affected by the tragedy, and we do. Most of us know at least one person at Tech—high-school acquaintances, close friends, even relatives.
Some of us know someone who was killed. Like Tech students, some of us will never forget.
But some of us will.
Right now, we remember watching the news. We remember frantically calling friends; we remember our parents frantically calling us. But those memories will fade in time, as all memories do. It’s a natural process—nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to fight against.
For the moment, though, remember. Even if you can’t remember where you were or what you were doing, remember who you know.
Take more than just a few symbolic minutes outside GW. Do something for someone you know at Virginia Tech. Call a friend you’ve fallen out of touch with. Leave a Facebook post on the wall of that girl you took American History with during sophomore year of high school.
Even if the memories are already fading, remember just a little bit longer.