This I Believe

Emily - Newtown, Connecticut
Entered on May 30, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: place
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I Believe in Remembrance

I believe there are horrors we want only to forget. I believe there are things we want to always remember and never forget. Yet, I believe there are some horrors we should always remember and never forget. April 16, 2007 started as any other day. It was a day of vacation, a day to savor every minute of thinking of anything but school and the AP exams that loomed over my head as May quickly approached. While shopping at the mall with my mom and younger sister we received a phone call that would change the way I viewed life forever.

My father called and told me of shootings at Virginia Tech, which by the end of the day would be known as a massacre: the deadliest school shooting in history. I am originally from the state of Virginia and it is where my heart lies. When asked how long I have lived in Connecticut I often respond, “Too long!” That day my thoughts, along with the thoughts of my mom and sister, rushed instantly to the son of my mom’s best friend. Nathan is a senior in the engineering department. After a phone call that gave us the answering machine at the home of his parents, we finished the day visibly shaken and worried not only about Nathan but also about many others that we knew from Virginia, our home. When we received the phone call that Nathan was fine and had been off campus at the time my heart instantly lifted but only for a short time.

I have never been more shaken by events that seemed to be so far away for the people around me, yet so close to my heart. I followed news reports more closely than usual. On national “maroon and orange day,” which had been designated by alums, I wore my Virginia Tech sweatshirt with an orange ribbon in my hair and a maroon and orange ribbon on my shirt. As I stepped out of the house, I immediately felt the stare of New Englanders hit my back, who seemed to be so distant from the shootings. I felt out of place. “I bet she goes to Virginia Tech,” they would whisper behind my back. One woman had enough courage to ask me. When I told her that it was national “maroon and orange day” in remembrance, she simply ended the conversation and went back to what she was doing.

I watched as the news slowly stopped airing reports. The internet homepage went from having the story as its headline, to an article in the lines underneath, to finally having nothing about it at all. Students in my town stopped talking about it the day after we got back from vacation and adults stopped a few days later. My heart lifted when I saw two people in my school wearing Virginia Tech sweatshirts. I hoped my grief was shared and others would remember and learn from the tragedy. I have not seen the sweatshirts again.

I believe there are some things that should never be forgotten. I do not have the intention of recalling the terrible images of the day to your mind, nor do I intend to discuss any reasoning of how or why anyone could do such a thing. A killer that brutal and violent does not deserve recognition. I believe we can learn from tragedy. I believe from the horror we should grow as a nation. I urge you not to forget because I believe the lives lost on April 16, 2007 should always be remembered.