Blacksburg

This past weekend was the middle weekend of April. That’s the time universities put on dog-and-pony shows for students who have been admitted, to help them make up their minds.

My daughter has been admitted to several universities, and she managed to narrow it down to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Somewhat at the last minute, she decided she needed to see both campuses to make her final decision.

So on Saturday she and my wife drove down to Blacksburg from our suburban DC home, about a four-hour trip. They stayed near Blacksburg and then spent Sunday in Tech’s pre-orientation sessions.

Monday they had moved up Interstate 81 to JMU, but my daughter had pretty much decided that Tech was the place she wanted to attend. Standing on the campus Sunday, looking around, she began to see herself as a student there.

As I was walking back from the cafeteria in my high school on Monday, one of the Spanish teachers had his classroom TV on. There was a map of Virginia with the town of Blacksburg highlighted. I saw a graphic indicating “21 dead, 21 injured.” It didn’t take long for the news of the massacre to filter through, as well as the instruction from our administration that we were to keep TV sets off and not talk about the news in class.

Many students from our area attend Virginia Tech. It is one of the more competitive universities in the Virginia system. Hokie loyalty is more intense than that of alumni of other places. Hokie pain is now intense. To see Virginia Tech on the front page of all the world’s newspapers because of a rampage that wiped out 33 young lives is deeply disturbing.

My daughter will probably still attend Tech next year. She realizes that Tech is the place she saw on Sunday, not the crazy-man-land it became on Monday. But it will always be unsettling to walk the campus where the worst shooting massacre in American history took place.

5 Responses to “Blacksburg”


  • A colleague of mine was there Sunday with his son as well to get the tour, which made it all the more surreal. His son also is still probably going to attend VT.

  • Yes, it will always have that shadow. But there is, of course, nothing intrinsic to VT that makes it a magnet for violent rampages.

  • A close friend’s daughter goes to Dawson in Montreal, where there were shootings earlier this school year. My thoughts are with those who are suffering (as I hug my own closer).

  • My son in law is a graduate of VT and still a Hokie. He was stunned to see what was happening at a place in which he had created so many positive memories. Quite a few kids from our area go to VT and unfortunately one of them was among those killed in the rampage. Hard to understand why these things happen but in the end we have to keep going.

  • Mark (my husband) and his brother are both Hokie alum. His daughter Sarah wanted to go there. It’s a great school. And disturbing to have this happen so close to home. With so many connections – Not just the alum connection, but my nephew – a college freshman who grew up in Centerville – knew two of the victims. Not well, but enough to be very upsetting.

    While this kind of violence is always disturbing, it does really rock you when it touches so close.

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