No state understands the horror of a tragedy like the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut better than Virginia. The wounds from the Virginia Tech Massacre are still very raw and its impact on our community continues now almost 6 years later.
Virginia is still trying to understand what happened on April 16, 2007. It is a process that will never end.
It was something no community had ever had to deal with before.
32 dead, 17 injured. It was a rampage in cold blood. Blacksburg, an idyllic college town and much like Newtown, a place you would never expect something like this to happen.
Almost immediately, the Hokie Nation in Virginia and beyond came together.
"That universality of hope is something that all around this world and here in this audience have embraced," said then Governor Tim Kaine during a memorial service shortly after the attack.
After a short period of grief, the Commonwealth went to work, establishing a commission to thoroughly evaluate what went wrong. The commission led to big changes related to mental health, campus security and access to guns in Virginia.
But despite the momentum for change, there was still plenty of disagreement. Laws were passed, but many did not make it through.
The tragedy turned to debate, one that continues to rage even today.
Through it all, and from that day on, the colors of maroon and burnt orange took on a completely different meaning. That painful memory is one that those connected to Virginia Tech will never forget.
Part of that memory means that every time a mass shooting occurs, Virginia Tech's tragedy is once again re-hashed.
"The greater Virginia Tech community knows, from our experience, of the unending sorrow and horror that has now descended on the Newtown, Conn. community," said Virginia Tech President Charles Steger.
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