There's no way to hide from it.
I was in my office when I first saw a "Breaking News" bit on the CBS.com feed. A shooting at a housing unit on the Virginia Tech campus. The campus had already gone through a lock-down on the first day of classes that last fall, and it turned out to be because of a non-school incident. It didn't raise much of an alarm for me. Until about an hour later. That's when reports of shootings in classrooms started coming over the tubes. My daughter, Kate, was in classes...where? I called my wife to see if she'd heard from Kate. She hadn't, and didn't know that anything was happening in Blacksburg.
She was in her The Gospels as Literature class. Seung-Hui Cho was supposed to be in that class with her, but he wasn't there that morning. At 9:26, she got an e-mail message from the school administration about the housing unit shooting. At nearly the exact same time, her boyfriend, (now her husband), called her cell phone. He said to her, "There's a shooter in Norris Hall. Run"! She ran. When she got to her car in the Lane Stadium parking lot, she called me. There was nothing for her to say other than that she was safe. Then she started crying. She cried, and cried, and cried. And I cried with and for her.
With a growing sense of relief, I returned to my desk. The relief, however, turned to horror as the death count started to be reported. First two, then five, then eleven, thirteen, nineteen, twenty two, twenty five, twenty seven, thirty two...and Cho, himself.
That years graduation was held just a month later. Walking around the drill field, seeing tent upon tent of messeges from around the world offering words of grief, support and hope and love was nearly overwhelming. Attending the ceremonies, where posthumanous diplomas and class rings were presented to the families of those who were slain taught me the true meaning of strength and grace. The entire community rallied to embrace not only their tragedy, but also their accomplishments.
It's been seven years. Kate has told me that she still feels survivor's guilt, and she reflexively flinches when she encounters a young Asian male. Each April 16 I call her to tell her that I love her. "There's a shooter in Norris Hall. Run"! She ran. But we have learned as a father and a daughter that, like all of us, you can run, but you can't hide. It's been seven years, but I know that I'll cry, today.