Just like in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, French daily Le Monde had published the famous "On est tous Americains" [We are all Americans], students and more broadly Americans sympathize with the plight of students and the entire community at Virginia Tech after the massacre of this past Monday. To signal their compassion, sympathy and sorrow students from all over the US will largely participate in the events of Friday, April 20 to commemorate and honor the victims and will be wearing orange and maroon clothes given that such are the official colors of Virginia Tech.
"Hokie" is the bird mascot of Virginia Tech; yet unlike many other school mascots whose task is primarily to foster school spirit in athletic competitions and appear on school logos and insignia, Hokie has been charged with the unsurmountable task of raising up the morale in what has been a tragedy of "monumental proportions" to quote Virginia Tech President, Dr. Charles Steiger. And indeed it will take time and effort in order to heal - the quick passing of the US President from Virginia Tech is important, but will not do the job in itself.
I perceive the Virginia Tech tragedy as part of a bigger question on the culture of violence and weapons in the US. While this does little, if anything, to mitigate my profound distress and sorrow for the 32 murdered at Norris and Ambler Johnston Halls, I cannot but see in this tragedy pictures from the Amish killings or the Columbine tragedy, all infamous cases involving shooting and innocent deaths. Treating the Virginia Tech massacre outside its true context may speed up the healing process and may enable an easier archiving of the case. But it will not honor the victims.
It is breathtaking really to see the level of support and sympathy from colleges all across the US who stand by Virginia Tech students: using modern technology and social networks such as Facebook.com or more traditional means and ways all stand by the students and the community at Virginia Tech. Most schools have a letter of sympathy and solidarity published in their website. Students organize vigils and raise funds for the Virginia Tech memorial fund. And it is not surprising this really given how vibrant student communities in the US are. For one thing, if students do something other than studying and studying hard this is to be compassionate individuals and produce tangible results to better the world they live in. To date, no one forgets that the Free Speech movement started in 1964, in the University of California at Berkeley...
"Hybrid logos" of students from Stanford University, George Mason University and Tufts University [all from www.facebook.com; VT logo from "A tribute to those who passed at the Virginia Tech Shooting"; Stanford and George Mason logos from "Remembering Virginia Tech Students 4/16/07" and Tufts logo courtesy of Mike Sidebottom)]
Top of the post: "The Hokie", the mascot of Virginia Tech