In Memoriam by wuyunyi


									                                  In Memoriam

                               "Now heaven knows
                                   what it means
                                  to be a Hokie."
                      ~Student inscription on memorial board
                                 at Virginia Tech~

It never fails. Just when I'm starting to experience the self-pity and anxiety that
always accompany my semi-annual visit to the oncologist, I get a heart- crushing
dose of reality that reminds me to thank God for every breath I take.

Governor Tim Kaine has declared that today is a statewide day of mourning here
in Virginia. We know that the nation and the world grieve with us the loss of
thirty-two innocent, precious lives during Monday's horrific shooting rampage at
Virginia Tech. We have many friends who are Tech alumni, and many who have
children and grandchildren at VT. We are only just now beginning to learn of
connections between some of our friends and family members and some of the
murdered and injured students.

Those of us who battle cancer are usually so focused on that disease that we are
startled - perhaps more than most - by news of other tragedies. It's as if we have
come to believe that a diagnosis of cancer is the absolute worst hand that one
can be dealt, as if we think there couldn't possibly be anything worse. Then a
shocking accident or something evil rocks the world, and we are stunned,
shattered and - in my case - more than a little ashamed.

As heartbreaking as these days are, and as unspeakably agonizing for the
families and friends of those who were killed, these terrible losses can - given
time and care and thoughtful reflection - serve to remind us that our mortality is
not a burden we must bear or a punishment we must live our lives dreading. Our
mortality is, in fact, a gift, for if we were immortal, if we knew we would never
die, our lives would have no meaning.

Instead, in the years to come, the friends and families affected by these
senseless deaths will celebrate the lives of their loved ones in ways that will share
the meaning of their lives with others. Perhaps one student's parents will start a
foundation in her memory to aid other grieving parents or raise funds to build a
new wing on the hospital where medical professionals fought to save the lives of
the injured. Maybe a sibling will form a support group for the brothers and sisters
of those who died. Perhaps a student whose life was saved by his professor will
be inspired to become a teacher. Some of the students might create a meditation
garden on the university campus, a place of peace and thanksgiving where all can
find comfort and solitude. The students who lost friends and the families of those
who died will in time find profound and creative ways to memorialize them, and
they will amaze us all with actions and decisions that will change the world for the

Those of us who grieve can and must find purpose and meaning in our grief while
honoring those we have lost. And all of us must find a way to throw off denial and
fear and to overcome the taboo subject of our own mortality, for it is only when
we acknowledge and make peace with death that we can truly embrace life, live
with intention, breathe out the fear, anger and bitterness that stifle and sicken
us, and breathe in peace, gratitude and joy.

The following was written and read by Poet Emeritus and Distinguished Professor
of English Nikki Giovanni at the convocation held the day following the tragedy at
Virginia Tech:

We Are Virginia Tech

We are Virginia Tech
We are sad today
And we will be sad for quite a while
We are not moving on
We are embracing our mourning
We are Virginia Tech
We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly
We are brave enough to bend to cry ...
And sad enough to know we must laugh again
We are Virginia Tech
We do not understand this tragedy
We know we did nothing to deserve it
But neither does a child in Africa dying of aids
Neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured
by a rogue army
Neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for
Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water
Neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of night in his crib in the
home its father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the
land was destabilized
No one deserves a tragedy
We are Virginia Tech
The Hokie nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands
to those who offer their hearts and minds
We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid
We are better than we think
and not quite what we want to be
We are alive to the imagination and the possibility
We will continue to invent the future
Through our blood and tears
Through all this sadness
We are the Hokies
We will prevail
We will prevail
We will prevail
We are Virginia Tech
 Ross Abdallah Alameddine, 20
 Christopher James Bishop, 35
        Brian Bluhm, 25
          Ryan Clark, 22
        Austin Cloyd, 18
   Jocelyne Couture-Nowak
    Daniel Perez Cueva, 21
       Kevin Granata, 46
Mathew Gregory Gwaltney, 24
     Caitlin Hammaren, 19
     Jeremy Herbstritt, 27
   Rachael Elizabeth Hill, 18
    Emily Jane Hilscher, 19
         Jarrett Lane, 22
           Matt La Porte
           Henry J. Lee
       Liviu Librescu, 76
      G.V. Loganathan, 51
   Partahi Lumbantoruan,34
       Lauren McCain, 20
        Daniel O'Neil, 22
          Juan Ortiz, 26
       Minal Panchal, 26
        Erin Peterson, 18
        Michael Pohle, 23
          Julia Pryde, 23
     Mary Karen Read, 19
      Reema Samaha, 18
Waleed Mohammed Shaalan, 32
         Leslie Sherman
          Maxine Turner
        Nicole White, 20

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