Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Morning of Mourning: Our Take on Tech

By now you have all seen the images of horror on cable TV, or read newspaper accounts of the carnage that was Virginia Tech yesterday. I do not feel it is my place to examine the university's handling of the situation, or try to place the tragedy's blame. I do know that the forces of good and evil are at war with each other, and we underestimate the enemy if we think such incidents will cease with quicker or more clever police work.

Today, I can only offer the feelings of two distinct college students, each physically far away from the situation—yet emotionally by both age and situation—quite near.

My son Patrick is a freshman at the University of Illinois. He is studying engineering—as were most of the victims at Virginia Tech. I called him yesterday; Patrick had recently passed out after giving blood (a rare but not dangerous reaction). I called to ask him how he was, if he was having any lingering effects from this incident. Although neither of us said it, we both knew this was not the real reason for the call.

"I'm doing fine, Dad," Patrick reassured, but after small talk about gambling (Patrick likes to play poker, low stakes of course) and grades, the talk turned to the day's awful events.

"I haven't watched much news coverage," Patrick confirmed, "mostly just what I heard from everyone ... no, U of I hasn't issued any statements, or started any new security procedures ... at least not yet ... okay, Dad, I'll see you soon. Thanks for calling." Patrick, an intelligent kid who nearly always knows the right thing to say, is also one to somewhat hide his emotions. Although he succeeded at this once again, his tone betrayed the fact that today, he was as happy to hear my voice as I was his.

Demetrius Jones, you may recall, is a sophomore at Notre Dame and a candidate to take over the Fighting Irish quarterback job vacated by the graduation of All-American Brady Quinn. While it would be unfair to call him the leading candidate, not only because Coach Charlie Weis guards this secret better than the Defense Department guards its nuclear weapons, but because Weis' gag-order on freshmen has not allowed new-kid-on-the-block Jimmy Clausen to prove himself to the press. Still, one has to be impressed by the way Jones (who recently shaved an ND logo into his hair) has handled himself with a microphone. Not only with confident statements like, "I didn't come here to be anybody's sidekick," but with his insights on current events, including yesterday's VT campus shootings.

"These are things eighteen- or nineteen-year-olds think about when they sleep at night," Jones said. After acknowledging to the press that Weis had addressed this issue to the team in a somber pre-practice meeting, Jones admitted it was still on his mind. "College football players may be big and tough but we have feelings too. We cry."

When thirty-three college students and faculty die, Demetrius is right in saying it is alright to cry. But we can never give up. For "never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided ..."

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