Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I know I should have written something about this a while ago. But what to write? I don't know. Living here in the Shenandoah, of course, all this tragedy is only a few hundred miles away. Practically everybody knows someone who goes to Tech. All of us at work were updating the live feeds from Google News all day on Monday, watching the numbers climb. Shock and disbelief were the overriding emotions.

And now the aftermath, right?

Tonight, my church had a special devo. A lot of people were wearing orange and maroon. We sat right behind a girl who is a freshman at Tech--not surprisingly, she came home to see her family. I don't know how close she was to where the shootings took place, but I'm sure that all of the students feel like they dodged a bullet.
Amy was there, and both her little girls were wearing Tech cheerleader dresses (I think their dad is a fan). I pointed that out to JC and he said, "You know, that's kind of disturbing."
"The babies cheering for death."
"They're cheering for a community in recovery and mourning. Not for death."
But I thought about it, and I could see his point. All around our community, orange and maroon are "the new black," and I was caught between the sadness and sweetness of their smiling faces above the VT logo--which has come to symbolize something a great deal more than a football game. The older one will be college-age in a decade and a half. Will she remember this day? I wondered. Will she remember why she got to wear her cheerleader outfit to church? I hope not.

I've been trying to figure out the first tragedy I can remember. I think it was the Challenger disaster, when I was three. I don't think that I really understood it until I was much older. When I was eleven, I saw an IMAX movie about space travel that mentioned it, focusing especially on Christa McAuliffe. Seeing the preflight interview footage with her, all the while knowing what came next, made a real impression on me--but I'm sure I didn't understand it when I was three.

What am I going to say to Teen Girl Squad, I, who have been telling them how much fun college is? April is the oldest--I think she's graduating this year--and she looked especially haunted tonight.

And what shall I say to my younger kids? I really don't know.

A lot of disturbing news has come down the wire. The shooter's plays, published on AOL (I read snippets...the blocking would have been very difficult), the speculation about what he was doing in those few hours...
Oh, and those jerks at the Westboro Baptist Church, stating that they will protest at the funerals of the victims. These people claim that the victims were being punished for not being true Christians. From the CBS story: "'The evidence is they were not Christian. God does not do that to his servants,' Phelps-Roper said. 'You don’t need to look any further for evidence those people are in hell.'"

Uhm. How about the self sacrifice committed by people in several of the classrooms who held doors shut so that others could escape. Many of them died in the process, and that heroism lends hope to the story. No greater love has man than this.

Those people make me sick. I'm just glad that I had to go looking for the story on that, when a friend told me about it. The media doesn't seem to be giving them the time of day, which is definitely a good thing.

And for now, all we can do is work and pray and reach out in love. The tragedy unfolding is almost surreal, but I have people in front of me to love and care for.

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