Just a year ago today, the shots of a crazed student brought down 32 aspiring students and faculty at Virginia Tech. Then the madman took his own life.

Since then and more recently, the headlines about this Virginia Tech tragedy have centered mostly on who was to blame for this and compensation for the families who lost sons, husbands, daughters. Some of the families have put donations to incredible use, like the Cloyds who use those contributions to repair dilapidated houses in the poorest sections of Appalachia. Stories like this are truly inspiring.

Yet the huge Hokie Spirit that impressed the nation immediately after the shootings seems to have dissipated and many of the students are saddened by that loss, as the editor of their student newspaper reports in an article.

This is a poignant day for our family because our daughter, who is now a sophomore there, lived in the dorm and on the same floor where the first two students were gunned down. A girl a few doors away never came back from German class. And the girl whose family is rebuilding homes in Appalachia, Austin Cloyd, was in her 8 am communications class only to go on next to the fateful French class that took her life. To top it all off, April 16 is our daughter’s birthday.

This year, like last, she doesn’t see anything to celebrate on her birthday. She often talks about how short life is and this viewpoint influences her young life. That her grandmother lived to be 94 doesn’t count in her mathematics of longevity. There will be a number of solemn memorials today on the campus and classes are canceled. It’s a Day of Remembrance. Even though April 16, 2007 is long gone, its aftermath lives on with many students like my daughter. It’s good to pause today and remember those who fell as well as those who carry on with the kind of memories they never thought they’d acquire in a bucolic college setting.

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  • Renee Cloyd says:


    I hope you and your family were able to find a meaningful way to celebrate your daughter’s birthday on the April 16. It is very difficult for her and others who lost friends and loved ones that day to see purpose and meaning for their lives. But we know that at least one victim would want your daughter to enjoy life, to spend time with friends, to live fully and laugh loudly!! Please share this with your daughter.

    Thank you.

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