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6 Years Since Virginia Tech School Tragedy

Earlier this month, a friend of mine quietly posted this quote from T.S. Elliot: “April is the cruelest month.” Immediately, I knew what he was alluding to — the first two weeks of April carry a tragic weight as they move us closer to the significance of April 16. Today is the six-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech school tragedy, an event that became the worst school shooting committed by a single person in U.S. history. My friend lost his girlfriend; I was shot three times by the gunman.

It’s taken me time to confront the reality of what happened to our community that morning inside of Norris Hall. On a very basic and scary level, before our story became a national headline — a “massacre” — and before the heated discussions around violent video games and gun violence, it was a very real, vivid, and tragic series of loud, piercing, and fatal moments in time.

Our early Monday morning classes were forever cut short by an individual with two guns. Once he had chained all three exit doors from the inside of the building, he walked from classroom to classroom, shooting us with intent to kill. He executed his intentions very calmly, methodically and purposefully. It has taken me, personally, six years to truthfully think about this confrontation with death, and what it means not only for Virginia Tech and the families of those who perished, but for us as a society and culture.

Is it okay to mark something as horrible as Virginia Tech a “massacre” and move on so readily, until the next one? We have to confront this, openly and collectively, in order to prevent what has become an epidemic of mass shootings in America.

I have spent a good portion of the past six years learning about campus safety — meeting with law enforcement, survivors of mass shootings and speaking at conferences. While Columbine High School first exposed to us to the possibility of school shootings, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook demonstrated how vulnerable our schools and children are. So where do we go from here — to deliver the promise to protect our communities from future victimization?

Read the full blog on the Huffington Post.