It was five years ago today that at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University campus – better known as Virginia Tech – a student shot thirty-two people dead and wounding twenty-five others.  It’s the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, the worst act of mass murder on college students and the second deadliest act of mass murder at a school campus.

I’m not going to get into the larger issues raised as 1) it’s been extensively covered at the time and since and 2) that’s not really relevant here.  This is strictly personal.

I did not know anyone who was killed or wounded that day personally.  Yet it made an impression on me for two main reasons.  The first one was that I was closer to them in terms of age (I was 26) and experience (finished college two years prior).  The second one was an unspoken bond with Virginian schools as someone who grew up there.  Obviously anyone who attended Virginia Tech was hurt by this.  But this hurt was also felt by those who attended any of the Virginian schools.  It’s an unspoken bond that became very apparent that day.  In fact, I thank Ben Lansing for expressing this sentiment visually at the time:

Cartoon by Ben Lansing

Another thing I remember very clearly about it was the weather.  During April, it was a spring warm.  But the sixteenth was a significant exception.  It felt like late autumn with cold crisp air and a grey overcast.  All of these things created an association with an earlier musical idea I had.  Thus was born my “musical response” to what happened.  This was – and still is – my humble tribute to what happened at Blacksburg.

Its subtitle is “an elegia in memoriam 16.04.2007 – ut prosim” (using the school’s motto).  Yet I still feel that this can be – and should be – seen as a comfort during any time of mourning, whether it’s for one or for many.  Furthermore, as this anniversary coincides with Bright Monday (or “Easter Monday” for those use the Julian calendar to determine the Pascha date), I affirm and testify that death has been and is still conquered.  Death does not have the final say, even when it seems that way.

May God grant rest to all Thy servants for as much as He is merciful and loves mankind.

Memory eternal.

All the best, DP

~ by djproject on 16 April 2012.

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