Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Tragedy

It just so happens that, since I came down with a bug or something yesterday, I have taken the day off of work today. Another weird circumstance is that Joshua was dismissed from school this morning because of turbulent wind storms in the area. The storms are expected to get worse throughout the day, so kids were sent home before it became more dangerous to send them home on buses later in the day.

Shortly after we finished eating lunch and watching, "The Price is Right," Joshua was channel surfing when he caught a CNN headline proclaiming a tragic shooting at Virginia Tech University. He's been pretty much glued to the TV for a couple of hours now. I've been watching TV with him and looking up related stuff on the Internet.

Joshua has a couple of reasons for being especially interested in this event. For one thing, VT is on the short-list of colleges he wants to attend. For another, he knows several people who attend Tech now. He just told me that some of his friends are updating their status through their IMs, blogs, etc. He's gotten one positive statement that someone is okay. In at least one other case, he's assuming that "no news is good news." I'm friends with the parents of some of these kids and I can't imagine what they're going through.

Initial reports indicated one person dead, 17 injured. We've watched in horror as the casualty reports keep increasing: 21 dead, 21 injured; 22 dead, 28 injured. . . The latest report, as I write (about 2:30PM), is that 31 people have died.

Even as events are unfolding the tragedy is being politicized by gun-control advocates, gun-control opponents and even anti-Iraq war advocates. It seems to me that it would be decent for all of these interest groups to stick to offering condolences at this point and leave the political statements for at least one more day. Is that too much to ask? With that thought in mind, I'll save my thoughts on the 2nd Amendment for another day.

Update - 5:30PM: Joshua just learned that several more of his friends from the Crossmen drum corps - current students at VT - are okay. Current casualty numbers = 33 dead, 15 being treated for injuries.

Update - 5:45PM: I just had a weird thought. Jonathan worked at Star Lake Camp in the summer of 2001. When 9/11 occurred he went through a process very similar to what Joshua is experiencing now. Jonathan knew people who lived and worked in NYC and was hungry for news of their welfare for several days. Email was an important link for him then, just as it is for Joshua today.

Update - 7:00PM: The Oakton High Band Boosters are sending messages through the band's Yahoo group and email lists. Positive reports have been received regarding roughly a dozen students so far.

Update - 8:30PM: Just learned that another 6 former Oakton High students at Va Tech are safe.

I knew there were connections between current OHS families and Va Tech, but I didn't realize how many there were. Remember, we're only learning about band/music students (we've heard about some choir kids too). I have no idea how many other families in this one school are affected by the day's events. Extrapolate that out to Fairfax County and northern Virginia in general and one just begins to realize how close to home this tragedy really is.


Dave said...

This is a major tragedy. What is most shocking is that before details are known groups are faulting this person and that group for the tragedy. Judgments are being cast to chastise others in order to fault people and groups.

Political leaders at various levels and parties have offered their condolences and call for prayer.

What is unfortunate about these calls is how even these statements are being used by some political commentators for political causes. Liberal radio talk show hosts are only broadcasting condolences by Democrat policans while Conservative have focused primarily upon Republican. What is disturbs me about this is that these same commentators frequently talk about how the other party uses events such as this for political advantage while they themselves are contributing to the problem which they rage about taking place. It demonostrates that advancing a political agenda trumps everything, including a tragedy such as this.

Erik said...

Dear Evie,
The point is with these things that we want to figure out why and reason and ask how this could happen. From an ocean-wide distance I share my feelings with you. On my school everybody talks about it, and it is also politicised here by the media: on Internet I saw a poll in which you could (dis)agree with the statement that this was "typical" American. I am convinced that in any area of the world where guns are freely available you can find lunatics who here voices in their heads commanding them to do things like these, or feel that what they see as Gods' will find this a deed of holyness, and put their brainwaves into practice. When Indonesia was a Dutch colony (now you don't hear about it anymore) there were people who didn't have a gun but a sharp sword and went out killing everything they saw moving in a state of outrageous madness, they called this "amok".
I see it as a terrible accident, and they choose schools because they know this will have the greatest impact, more than a traffic square or market. But tell this to the victim families, they are too overwhelmed by grief. I wish you and your family much strength and please make them sure they have your support and help, that's what they need: other people taking care.

Erik said...

No, I was wrong: it wasn't a lunatic with voices in his head but a student who felt so abandoned by everybody that something led him to what he did. It makes the tragedy only deeper.

Stephen said...


It has taken me a couple of days to get the courage to look at your and David's blog. I knew you would be writing about the horrible tragedy that has taken place at Virginia Tech. It's a tragedy on a scale that I just can't even begin to comprehend. As I reflect on what has occured there on that campus, hundreds of people are slaughtered in Iraq in the continuing tragedy of sectarian hatred. It's all so painful as a human being that we have not moved beyond such a level of existence.

I know that these two events really do not relate to one another, but it does demonstrate the sad state of our human existence.

As I watched horrified last night on the news of the mentally deranged and horribly ill and ignored young man, it saddens me to think of the mental anquish that he has lived with for years - the growing sense of abandonment, the growing infurno of rage and hatred that eveloped his life and mind. It's horrible existence! It's horrible that so many families, so many young lives who were not only good people, but truly caring people were rubbed out because those who desperately tried to help this young man over the past several years were ignored by a system whose hands were tied.

I refuse to politicalize this event around gun control as nothing needs to be said for the circumstances of the procurment of the guns by this young man speaks for itself.

All day as the events began to unfold, Gayle and I were thinking about you and the family - just by the nature of where you live, you had to be affected by this at a deep level to some degree.

Tell Josh we prayed for him this evening!