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The Daily Tar Heel

Honor Virginia Tech’s victims

All too often this time of year we find ourselves overwhelmed with day-to-day college troubles. And all too often we forget to take the time to remember those events that make all those college troubles worthwhile.

Noted as the deadliest shooting rampage in American history, it was just four years ago Saturday that Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed two students in West Ambler Johnston Hall. Two hours later, he had killed a total of 32 people and then himself.

It would later be called the Virginia Tech massacre.

In the days that followed that tragic incident, Virginia Tech would witness poignant signs of sympathy far and wide.

Rather than sport their typical blue and white paraphernalia, Penn State fans donned the unmistakable maroon and orange combination at their annual spring football scrimmage. Students from Alabama to Korea sent consolation posters and blessings. And various universities held memorial services for the fallen, sent sympathy cards, dedicated days of service and held candlelight vigils.

In light of Virginia Tech, I sometimes think we take this school for granted. We think nothing of how many times we’ve walked in and out of a lecture class without having to question our safety afterward. We indulge in our weekend plans without hesitation and meet up with friends for lunch without a care in the world.

And while I don’t intend to criticize us all for these tendencies, I do intend to make sure we understand how lucky we are to have them.

It is of course saddening to think of such occurrences happening on our own campus, but it’s naïve to not take them seriously when we, as college students, can relate so closely to the circumstances of Virginia Tech.

Just take a look at the biographies of the 32 fallen. If you don’t share a common year, major or career goal with one of these outstanding students, you share a favorite sport, a hometown, a fun hobby, or a personality trait.

And it’s realizations like these that test our own consciousness as a university. Yeah, we could bicker back and forth all day about those gun control laws, create theories about the dorm break-ins and arrests and complain about AlertCarolina all day, but none come within even the same ballpark as the magnitude of this day in history.

At the memorial service at Virginia Tech, former president George W. Bush said something I find unforgettable: “Schools should be places of sanctuary and safety and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community.”

If you can’t imagine Virginia Tech specifically, you can at least imagine the “sanctuary” we have coined Tar Heel nation. And while the Virginia Tech community had every reason to be defeated by such an event, it takes a very devoted group of people to prosper in spite of it.

If you are willing to appreciate the wake-up call the massacre at Virginia Tech represents, you will agree: Today and tomorrow we are not just Tar Heels, we are all Hokies.

Taylor Fulton is a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel. She is a sophomore PWAD and Arabic major from Atlanta, GA. Contact her at

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