Flashback Friday: April 16th, 2007
I realized the other day why April 16th (the day of the PE) sounded familiar: today is the third anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. So here’s a rather somber “Flashback Friday”.
Three years ago, Matt and I had just graduated from graduate school at Virginia Tech with our masters in structural engineering. On Monday, April 16th, 2007, I called Matt around noon, and he informed me that our friend, Theo (who was still on campus and had scheduled his defense that day), had just called to tell Matt that something was wrong on campus. I immediately went to CNN to discover that there had been shootings on campus. I called my roommate, who was also still on campus, to see how she and our friends were. She said that everyone was okay and just chilling at home. A few minutes later, she retracted her statement and said, “No, not everyone is fine. I have to go.”
I went to eat lunch with my coworkers, but my phone started ringing repeatedly. My friends and family were worried about me and my friends in Blacksburg. (Some people actually couldn’t remember if I had graduated yet). Since I was so distracted, I ended up leaving the office. It reminded me of September 11, 2001, when I spent the entire afternoon/evening watching the news at home. It was so surreal seeing the campus that you had just left on national television. The building where it all happened was actually the building where I had class, weekly meetings, and defended my thesis. Watching that video of the shootings, I knew EXACTLY where he was standing.
I finally got in touch with my roommate later that afternoon, and learned that one of the classes that was attacked was a graduate course for environmental engineers (which was my roommate’s concentration). In fact, one of our close friends had just dropped the class a few weeks before. That night the news began scrolling through the names of the victims. I immediately recognized one of them as the co-TA with one of my roommates.
A few days later, while at the gym, I caught a special show which told the stories of the victims. That was when it hit me. I broke down on the treadmill and had to leave to gym. I couldn’t believe how close to home this whole thing was. I could easily have been one of the people on planes going to funerals for the victims.
That Friday was maroon and orange day to show support for the community of Virginia Tech. At my company, we all wore maroon and orange.
We have been back to campus twice now since the tragedy. The wing of the hall where it happened is still closed, and I believe is being renovated. There is now a memorial on campus, similar to the make shift memorial made on the drill field right after the tragedy, with a Hokie Stone for each victim.
Sorry to be so somber, but it really was a day that will always stick in my mind.
We will prevail.