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.