04/17/07 — Tragedy at Tech: Gunman’s choice has left many wondering ‘why’

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Tragedy at Tech: Gunman’s choice has left many wondering ‘why’

It is hard not to be affected by the sadness, despair and worry that is flooding the Virginia Tech campus today.

For some parents, it is the gut-wrenching feeling of having lost a child in a senseless act of violence. For others, it is the worry of sitting by the bedside of a student who is fighting for his or her life.

And for the community and students who remain, there is a sense of “why was I picked to survive” and the relief in knowing that each will eventually recover from the university’s tragic Monday — even if that day, today, seems months away.

There is no easy answer to what makes a person decide not only to end his life, but to take 30 other people with him.

There are no words to explain the thought process — or why when confronted with the suffering he caused, the shooter did not stop, spare lives.

And while campus police will continue to try to unravel the mystery, and more details of the events that led up to that day will be revealed, we will never really know why this young man chose to target his fellow students.

There will be stories of bravery as the days unfold. There are already details about one professor’s brave attempt to get all his students out of the classroom — while he stayed behind to barricade the door. He lost his life trying to protect them.

And there will be plenty of tales of horror, too, students who were lucky enough to escape, but not before watching their fellow classmates murdered.

There will be many months that will pass before the healing can even start and the Virginia Tech campus can get back to normal. And that is how it should be.

There are lessons to be learned from Monday’s tragedy — and many debates that probably will result as well. Second-guessing is part of healing — and a way to help make sure this never happens to another campus or family.

But the most important component that we should take away from the Virginia Tech story today is how fleeting life really is. You never know what will happen next or to whom you have said your last goodbye. Keeping focused on what matters — and those who matter — is the best lesson to take away from April 16, 2007.

Published in Editorials on April 17, 2007 12:39 PM