Saturday, April 16, 2011

Four Years Later

This is a repost from two years ago. We love you and miss you, Leslie.

Many of you may know that today is the second anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech that took place on April 16, 2007, but I doubt many of you really know how extraordinary the 32 students and faculty members who died that day really are-so extraordinary that "were" is simply not appropriate.

I can't believe it's been two years. That night, I remember my parents getting a call from my older sister. All she could say was "Leslie's gone." Leslie Sherman was one of her best friends in high school. They ran on the cross country and track teams together, hung out, went on trips and all that jazz. Leslie wasn't exactly a third sister to me-I never really knew her that well-but it really hit close to home. It's hitting closer to home now, because everything is beginning to align. She was a History major. So am I. She worked at a dining hall. So do I. It's just these two little coincidences, going along with the anniversary that really bring it all up. 

I didn't know what to do that day. Fairfax County let us out of school early due to "high wind" (although now we know what the probable reason really was). I went to a friend's house, sat on the couch and saw everything. And then I changed the channel. It was too much for me to think about-I had a binding agreement to go to Virginia Tech, a school as rooted in my family as can be. I never doubted my decision, even afterwards, but obviously it was just too much for an 18-year-old to deal with.

There's not too much else to the story. There were the cameras at West Springfield when we had our "Senior Night" for track. Naturally, I decked out in Tech stuff and ended up on the news. There was the funeral, where I wore a VT tie. I didn't know how to deal with the situation except to be proud of who I was: a Hokie, and where I was going to spend the next 4 years of my life: Virginia Tech.

I've run out of words, so I'll let VT professor Nikki Giovanni finish this post:
We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

We are the Hokies.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.

--Nikki Giovanni, April 17, 2007

If you would like to read more about the legacy Leslie left:
Here's the link to her official VT rememberance biography.
Here's the link to the tribute my high school journalism teacher wrote. Here's another post that she wrote today.
Here's the comment board set up by the New York Times to let people give their best memories of Leslie.
Here's Leslie's biography from the Washington Post.
Here's a feature on Leslie from the Roanoke Times.

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