Friday, April 16, 2010


Today is the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting. I didn't go to Tech, but my husband did, which makes us a Hokie family.

On April 16, just like April 19th (Oklahoma City) and 20th (Columbine), I make a point to take time out of my day and remember the people who died. I'm not sure why April was such a big month for this. I know Hitler's Birthday is the 20th but I don't know if that's why they do it. My brother's Birthday is on the 18th so there's a small respite. I think there was a terrorist attack on one of our embassies on that day, but in the 80s I think so I was too young for it to have a real impact.

Whenever something like this happens and it seems to happen way too often now, I make a point of reading all of the names. I've always done it and while it's a bit depressing I think the least I can do is to acknowledge each person and their death. I've never been able to do that for September 11th because so many people died and it's always bothered me. One company lost 658 people so I wonder how they even did it. Cantor Fitzgerald made a pledge to distribute 25 percent of the firm's profits for the next five years, and committed to paying for ten years of health care, for the families of its 658 former employees (profits which would otherwise have been distributed to the Cantor Fitzgerald partners). I can't talk about all of the people who died that day without mentioning this. When I read this it blew my mind because they didn't seak nor get much press for it and they're still paying for the health insurance. They didn't argue about paying out money for other people who may or may not have been in need after losing a bread winning parent, they just did it. I'm not sure but this sounds like the Christian way of handling health care reform, not bitching about what you shouldn't have to do for other people. God is watching.

Anyhoo, on the day of the shooting, Chris took me to Columbia to have a kidney stone removed and I was pretty upset about it so he was full hands on which meant we didn't listen to the radio and knowing Chris, he probably read a book in the waiting room as opposed to watching TV, if there even was one. We learned the news from his mother who was at home watching our son. I got the same sick feeling in my stomach that I always get and I'm sure it was much worse for Chris who has memories that I don't have. He and his fraternity brothers talked that day but none of them really had anything to say. Chris was upset beyond words and still doesn't really like to talk about it. I am famous for buying magazines and newspapers when something big happens like this . After September 11th, I filled four scrapbooks that I know someday my kids will use for learning about the day and how jumbled the news was. My mother did the same thing when President Kennedy and Bobby were shot and they're interesting to look at now. After the VT shooting, I bought a single magazine. Time had a cover with each of the 32 people who were murdered and I thought it would be something good and tasteful to remember the day.
The day after the shooting I wore one of our Virginia Tech sweatshirts to the post office. It wasn't really a statement, I just lived in it back then. A woman said to me, "Don't you feel weird wearing that today?" My natural instinct was to say, "Are you a crackpot? I'm supposed to not wear a sweatshirt from a good school because some whack job killed innocent people? We're standing in a post office. If that angry snot nosed woman behind the counter opened fire, would you no longer send mail?" Instead, I found my kinder gentler Michelle and said, "Crazy happens anywhere." I thought it was appropriate for the day before and her comment.

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