“If we don’t meet again, your final assignment from me is
perhaps the most important lesson you will learn in life. Go to your mother,
father, brother and sisters, and tell them with all your heart how much you
love them. And tell them you know how much they love you too. Go out of your
way to make good memories…at some point these memories may be all you have
left. May God bless you all, Bryan.”
– Professor Bryan Cloyd’s
e-mail to his students. Cloyd’s daughter, Austin, died in the April 16, 2007,
Virginia Tech shootings.
This was almost 20 years ago in Jefferson City, Missouri. It was my first story on my first day as a reporter for United Press
International. I still remember calling in the copy from a nearby pay phone,
the crime scene and the students. I remember thinking how could this happen,
why did it happen, and would it happen again.
Twenty years later, all that’s changed is the technology.
News moves faster, guns shoot better. But tragedy is timeless.
You don’t need me to go on about the Hokie Horror that
devastated Virginia Tech and froze the country in disbelief; we have Anderson
Cooper for that.
I’ll just say this: It took five syllables and about a week
for Don Imus to lose his talk radio job. Cho Seung-Hui gives us more than two
years of warnings via teachers and students, spends time in a mental facility
where he’s deemed a menace to society, and we don’t hear a damn thing.
Student newspapers covering the Virginia Tech tragedy: