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Commentary: Friday’s Blue Skies Greeted The Orange And Maroon

by Amy Stanford
April 21, 2007

Bright sun, blue skies and a vivid sea of orange and maroon filled the campus of Virginia Tech, the town of Blacksburg, the state of Virginia and across the United States for our National Day of Mourning on Friday, April 20, 2007, to remember the innocent victims of the shootings at Virginia Tech.

I didn’t know what to expect when I left for work this morning. Our week had been so overwhelming with the full spectrum of emotions, the intense media barrage on our small town and the outpouring of support from so many. There was still a somber silence on campus surrounding the memorials on the Drillfield where so many Hokies were mourning their friends or family or simply paying their respects to victims with whom there was no personal relationship. I, like many, fall into that last category and had no personal relationships with any of the victims, yet I still feel a connection to them.

For a day, focus on our tragic event finally shifted from the case, the investigation, and the issues to heartfelt memories of the 32 innocent victims. Although our memories of Monday will always be full of sadness, it has made me feel better, more peaceful today, to hear about the amazing lives of those wonderful human beings.

Today, I felt the sympathy and the well wishes of the world and I hope and pray the families of the victims have also been able to find at least some small amount of solace in knowing that the world is getting to know their loved ones.

As I sat at my desk and started to really get back into some work tasks, the radio was on in the background and I periodically checked different web news outlets. As the morning progressed, more and more memorial songs, stories, and pictures surfaced. Today, however, the memorials began to have a more uplifting feel for me. The local radio station was airing clips of Nikki Giovanni’s Convocation Address, followed by our “Let’s Go Hokies” chant, followed by the rallying sounds of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” (the song that pipes into Lane Stadium as all 65,000 fans jump up and down to welcome our team on football Saturdays) and “every Hokie’s favorite song...Tech Triumph!” (our school fight song). Hearing these familiar sounds was extremely comforting to me. Then I heard that our biggest in-state rival, the University of Virginia, was also flooded by a sea of orange and maroon.

“We are all Hokies today” has been a statement that has touched me deeply over these past days. Today, I feel the intense sense of Hokie Hope. I feel like things, although not there yet, will get back to “normal.” I feel like Monday will show the world our strong resiliency when our students return. I am so proud of all of the students and family members that have represented Virginia Tech in such a positive way in the media. As Nikki Giovanni said and as we have seen in so many articles, reports, and other accounts, “We are Virginia Tech, We are the Hokies, We will Prevail!”

Amy Stanford is a 2003 graduate of Virginia Tech who works as an administrator in the school’s Economics Department.