Tribute to the 32 Innocents Who Died at Virginia Tech University, April 16th

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For us, life will go on, but for those who lost someone on April 16th at Virginia Tech, it will never be as bright or as filled with hope as it once was.

The sound of gunshots ringing out across Virginia Tech University on Monday morning will echo forever in the minds of all who heard them. 32 innocent people, students and teachers at the university were cut down by the lone gunman as he marched through the college halls. The world is united in horror and grief at the events that took place in Blacksburg, and as the days pass and we strive to understand this chaotic and incomprehensible event, we must never allow the images of evil that have scarred that day overshadow the heroism of those that died trying to save others, or the innocence of those killed before they had a chance to really live.

32 people, most of them in their late teens and early 20s, young people who's lives were yet to begin died as a result of one man's twisted actions. However, through all the tragedies and horror of that morning there are stories of true heroism, tales of selflessness in the face of the senseless that will stand as testament to the power of good.

As the silent terror stalked the corridors of Norris Hall bringing death to all those he saw, students and teachers comforted each other and helped each other escape, risking their own lives to help others. We hear stories of Virginia Tech staff like professor Jamie Bishop protecting the lives of his students with his own body and of 76 year old holocaust survivor Professor Librescu holding a door shut to allow his students to escape, even though it meant certain death for him.

We hear stories of the human tragedies, and we remember that behind the headlines, behind the statistics, there are lives that will never be lived, dreams that will never come true, and children who will never see their parents again. It is too easy to be drawn into the debate about how and why this tragedy was allowed to happen, too easy to forget the names of those who fell, and too easy to remember the name of the killer.

As people around the world listened to events taking place in Blacksburg, the one question that was asked again and again was "why?" Why would someone do this to their fellow students, to their colleagues, the people that they saw each day? We may never know the answers to our questions about what made Cho Seung Hui into a mass murderer but perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that for all the heroism of those who faced him and those that fell, it is his name that will be remembered forever rather than those like Professor Liviu Librescu, Jarrett Lane, Kelly Boito, Henry Lee, Amanda Cahall, Emily Hilscher, Brian Blum, and all the others who died and will be sorely missed.

Nations around the world were touched by the events of April 16th, families separated by oceans were brought together once more in hope and in some cases sorrow as they waited for news to come through. The tragedy brought people together in grief, to share with each other the desolation that such events bring upon us all, but from the pain and heartache, we must find hope that we as a people can find ways to prevent what happened from ever happening again, ever.

Although the tragedy of this horrifying day will last in our memories, we will move on and recover, find comfort in watching as those who survived grow and live their lives. We will celebrate their successes, find happiness in their triumphs, and, we will remember, because we must never forget that the victims of April 16th are not just those who died, but those who survived.

For us, life will go on, but for those who lost someone on April 16th at Virginia Tech, it will never be as bright or as filled with hope as it once was. The dead of April 16th will never grow old, nor suffer the pains of living and loss, they will never have the joys of living either, we will live for them, remember them in our hearts, and share in their lives, give thanks for the short time that they were with us, and remain faithful to their dreams. We who remain should take comfort from the heroism shown by those who died protecting others, and take pride in the dignity that was shown by those who lost their loved ones.

God Bless Them All.
Kaung Ko


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