I am watching coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting on NBC's Dataline. On many news sites, profiles of the victims have begun to appear, virtual memorials are springing up all of the web, the list has been posted on wikipedia, and many have been reaching out to each other via facebook and myspace posting images of black ribbons and VT logos.
As Keith Morris reported moments ago, even Liviu Librescu - a Holocaust survivor whose violent death came ironically on Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel - connected with his wife in Romania via the Internet just moments before he died: "He had seen the gunman coming; he blocked the door with his body [even continued to hold it as he was shot through the door]. Students jumped out the windows. He emailed his wife to tell her what he'd done and then he died."
Tonight I learned that both Seung-Hui Cho and two of his victims Reema Samaha and Erin Peterson graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Virginia - Sueng-Hui in 2003 and Reema and Erin in 2006. In my three years as a college administrator after graduating from Western Carolina University in 2003, I worked in student recruitment and Chantilly, Virginia, was in my recruitment territory. I visited Westfield High School every year and I remember searching driving directions on mapquest.com from my hotel to Stonecroft Boulevard. There is no significance surrounding that memory, but I wonder if I ever talked to Reema or Erin about WCU.
The victims are from all over the country - even the world. There is one from Charlotte, North Carolina. Another from Georgia - my boyfriend's home state. In this time of grief, we all become hoakies because we are sons, daughters, friends, acquaintances.
As important as I know it is for us to reach out to each other during times of tragedy among our own, I wish the deaths in Iraq - Iraqis and all soldier forces alike - were as internationally revered. They, too, are fathers, sons, wives, girlfriends, best friends, students. We are all human, we are all connected, we are all our own.
It's hard to remember that when the world seems so big, but it's not easy to forget when it suddenly becomes small.