A gripping, emotional account of the worst school shooting in United States history, told by those who lived through it
Monday, April 16, 2007 started like any other Monday at Virginia Tech, with professors and students preparing for another busy week of classes. However, word quickly circulated of a shooting in the dorms - and the gunman was still loose. The campus went into lockdown, and as the gruesome events unfolded in Norris Hall, a group of journalism students trapped in a nearby building transmitted stories and updates to the student-run website, PlanetBlacksburg.com.
Now, these students, together with their journalism instructor and members of the Virginia Tech community, have documented the events of that day. April 16th: Virginia Tech Remembers gives a voice to the students, faculty, and staff who lived through the shooting, and serves as a memorial for the 32 victims. The book also describes the onslaught of media coverage that immediately followed, and reveals the remarkable resilience of the students of Virginia Tech throughout the entire ordeal.
Collecting the voices of those students, faculty, staff and citizens who lived through a killer's rampage at Virginia Tech earlier this year, this rich, painful and compassionate volume sheds light on the tragedy while honoring the living and dead both. Beginning with a minute-by-minute account of Seung-Hui Cho's murderous progress across campus, followed by the media's descent on the formerly quiet town of Blacksburg and closing with tributes to each of Cho's 32 victims, the book is heart-rending and terrifying, often simultaneously. Eyewitness accounts reflect a complex swarm of emotions with which many Americans, having seen the drama play out on television, will identify: alumnus Ashley Hall says, "I saw Matt Lauer framed by my Duck Pond. Every new camera angle was filled with a wonderful memory that was now stained with blood." As some try to make sense of the horror ("What atrocities could possibly have befallen Cho as he grew up on the mean streets of northern Virginia?"), others mine their souls for compassion and forgiveness-"Hearts of kindness invalidate evil," says the mother of one victim-and it's that spirit of resilience and humanity (embodied in the much-lauded "Hokie Pride") that shines strongest. Unfortunately, the book bears the traces of a rush to publication; eyewitnesses aren't always identified except by name, the campus layout is never detailed and the role of the two much-cited Virginia Tech media outlets, planetblackburg.com and the Collegiate Times, are never explained (though staff writers from both publications contributed). Still, this volume, rich with immediacy, depth and emotion, is an admirable memorial and a fine remembrance. Photo Insert.