Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tragedy at Virginia Tech

Today is the anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families, relatives and friends of those who lost their lives on April 16th, 2007 in this senseless tragedy.....

The picture below was on the Collegiate Times in 2007 at VT:
There is a permanent memorial at VT. The Collegiate Times has a nice article describing the memorial.
My memories of April 16th, 2007 started with a phone call from my wife. Julie called and said, "just wanted to let you know that John is fine." At the time I was on my SunRay reading email while on a con call when she called my cellphone. She never calls me during theday since she is a school teacher. "Why would John not be be fine?" I asked. She asked me if I was watching TV or listening to the news. Of course I was not watching TV or listening to the news. She explained what was going on. I immediately interrupted the Sun folks on the con call and quickly said, "I had to get off the call, there was a shooting at my son's school."
It was then that I turned on the TV and was shocked to see the peaceful and beautiful VT campus on the news. I started getting emails, phone calls from literally around the world checking on John. You sometimes forget in casual conversation that you mentioned something about your kids that your friends and colleagues remember. Every time a call came, I paused the DVR. I was getting the current updates from friend, colleagues\s and family all around the world via email and non stop phone calls. As the numbers kept rising, it became more and more surreal.
 My son John was working for the Collegiate Times during his freshman year.  He put together a very nice week long history of events starting on April 16th through April 23rd that shows what happened each day.
I can not imagine the horror the students and faculty must have felt. There was an article in the post today by Nick Miroff, titled, "A Year Later, Virginia Tech Is Still Healing" is a well written article worth reading. As Miroff points out:
"Virginia Tech students have learned to talk about it in shorthand, if they talk about it at all. This Story

They do not use the words massacre, or shootings, or rampage. They call it "April 16th," and sometimes not even that. To say "four-sixteen" is enough. Everyone knows." 
I have been back to VT many times since April 16th, 2007 both as a parent and working for Sun Microsystems where I have given talks and brought down Sun's thought leaders to speak at VT's ACM where my son John is President.  Each time, the first thing I do is visit the memorial
          Governor Kaine has did a good job demanding there was the VT Task Force.  Governor Kaine stated:
"On April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech University suffered a terrible tragedy. Today, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and the entire Virginia Tech community.
"In the year that has passed since that horrible day, we have grieved for those we lost and prayed for the comfort of their loved ones. We have rejoiced in the recovery of those who were injured. We have been inspired by the unfaltering hope and Hokie spirit of Virginia Tech. And we have renewed our commitment to do even more to learn lessons from that day and to make our campuses and communities safer.
"As I think about the victims' families, I am at a loss for words to express what is in my heart. The courage and strength they have shown in the face of such tremendous, tragic loss is awe-inspiring. We have been inspired by the resilient Hokie spirit of Virginia Tech, both in Blacksburg and around the world. Since that tragic day last April, the unshakeable sense of unity and hope demonstrated by the Hokies has touched the lives of people around the world. Their focus on pulling together to support their school and each other in the days after the shooting, and their commitment to public service through the VT Engage program in the months that followed has moved us all.
"We still have work to do. A continued commitment to improvement is the best tribute we can pay to those who lost so much. And as we move forward, we will continue to be inspired by those in the Hokie Nation."

VT seems to have made the right changes. The VT Task Force seemed to not pull any punches when it came to how the University should have dealt with the events on the morning of April 16th, 2007. As the AP reported and I FULLY AGREE with Governor Kaine about purchasing firearms at gun shows. Virginia needs to get its act together.  This loophole is INSANE!  

"Gov. Timothy M. Kaine proposed mandated background checks yesterday for everyone who attempts to purchase firearms at gun shows - legislation that he called critical to helping prevent future tragedies like the shootings at Virginia Tech. Many families of those killed or injured in the April shootings have called on legislators to close Virginia’s so-called gun show loophole, which allows people to purchase firearms from unlicensed sellers at gun shows without having to submit to background checks. Under current Virginia law, only licensed dealers are required to run background checks on customers.
“If by doing this, we can keep one family from having to go through what these families have suffered, it will be the best thing that the legislature will do this year,” Kaine said at Virginia State Police headquarters, surrounded by several of the victims’ families."

UPDATE:  VA continues to be a backward state and allows the gun show loophole.   I also called into the Kojo Nnamdi Show when he had an anniversary show on the VT shooting.   If you go to the 11:52 mark, you can hear my statements and question that goes until the 13:14 mark.

Hopefully the healing will continue for those directly affected...

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