Archive for April, 2007
Tomorrow I fly to Kansas, but today I hiked my mountains. Lud, Jimmie and Henry and I headed to Kelly’s Knob. Kelly’s Knob is just 120 yards off the Appalachian Trail on John’s Creek Mountain. It isn’t the best view on the RATC-maintained trail, but it has a special distinction — you can see the the Virginia Tech campus (and my neighborhood) from the knob. After the tragedy this week, it seemed the most fitting destination on the entire Appalachian Trail.
Lud and I took this opportunity to hang a VT flag at the knob. We chose to wrap it around a tree trunk to help it better survive any wind. The tree we selected is a blazed tree right next to the connector trail back to the AT. In a way, it is a blaze back to Blacksburg, a blaze back home.
We did have one mishap. Henry was unsupervised long enough to roll in poo. We don’t know what kind of poo (perhaps I should have paid more attention to the scat display at the Vail Nature Center), but Lud told Sean, “It’s definitely not domestic and if it is, I don’t want to know what it’s from!”
When we arrived at the knob, Henry’s smelly presence was not embraced by the other hikers. A few of them actually fled! As a result, Henry was banned from the rock outcropping. I tied him up to a tree far away from any people. Here is a quick shot of outcast Henry. He was so shunned, even the camera felt it unfit to focus on him (you should be thankful– now you can’t see all detailed stains on his coat).
On a side note, we encountered two thru-hikers who have already made it this far into Virginia! Their trailblog is at http://twodaves.blogspot.com.
We had a beautiful weather and beautiful views. It was a great hike and I found it to be therapeutic. Mountains are my favorite Mass.
Earlier this week, on a seemingly idle Monday, we got to witness the worst of mankind. And then through that heartache, we got to see the best of mankind– a teacher sacrificing himself for his students, a strong father recounting his daughter’s memory with love, the prayers and outreach of countless rivals and strangers. And now, we once again get to see the worst of mankind:
The Westboro Baptist Church, based out of Topeka Kansas, is planning on picketing Ryan Clark’s funeral tomorrow in Georgia, presumably to show us that “God is punishing America for her sodomite sins…” Clint alerted me to this disturbing news via a blog post of his.
I have heard many remarkable things about Ryan Clark the last few days. The item I will remember the most in the coming decades is a snippet someone wrote on one of the memorials on the Virginia Tech Drillfield. The author talked about how helpful and happy and uplifting Ryan Clark was and then the author said (possibly paraphrased), “I can not think of a better angel than you.”
Ryan Clark, this angel, does NOT deserve what the Westboro Baptist Church intends.
4ThoseWhoCant.com is organizing Hokies and Hokie Supporters to “block these monsters” from the funerals of all 32 victims, including Ryan Clark. If you are interested in participating, they have contact information listed on their site. It is too late to save the victims from their untimely deaths, but hopefully there is still time to save the dignity of their services.
This evening, Larry, Mike E and I took a somber walk around campus. Below are some pictures from our walk.
Sentiments From Other Schools
I continue to be overwhelmed by the responses we see from around the world. A couple signs on the Drillfield originated from other schools.
In my journals following September 11th, I noted how the local businesses displayed messages in their marquees. This incident provoked a similiar response.
The Lyric, our theatre which originally opened in 1930
A Child’s Note
People had placed flowers next to the West Ambler Johnston (my dorm of two years) sign.
A child had placed a note there as well. From what I could tell it read:
I [am] sorry for wh[at] haped. I hop there [is no] more bad g[?]eas at VT. I hoap it wilt never haped a gine
At such a young age, this child is already reaching out and communicating his/her personal disappointments and sorrows. If Cho Seung-Hui had mastered similiar skills, perhaps his turmoil would not have reached the point it did.
On the Drillfield in front of Burruss, 32 blocks of Hokie Stones were placed in an arc. Each stone represented a life cut short and each stone had a VT flag and flowers respectfully placed upon it.
A tree is planted on the Drillfield for each graduating class of Virginia Tech. Today, maroon, orange and/or black ribbons were tied around each tree. This particular tree was near the War Memorial. You can see the VT President Bush and Governor Kaine signed in the background.
Drillfield, War Memorial and Squires
Multiple memorials were present all around campus, particularly the Drillfield and our War Memorial.
A make-shift memorial (the VT was originally crafted by students for the Miami game). In front are white candles for each of the deaths and red candles for each of the injured. In the background, a blooming tree indicates it’s spring (a period typically associated with new life, not what was brought our way).
Greetings from my home in Blacksburg, Virginia. It took roughly 26 hours, involved a cold night on the Dulles floor, a reroute to Greensboro and lost luggage, but we finally made it home. Special thanks goes out to Bill C who, on short notice, picked us up in Greensboro and took us back to Roanoke to retrieve our luggage. Bill and I left Roanoke Airport shortly before Airforce One arrived and we got to watch a group of six helicopters pass over on I-81 on their way to Blacksburg.
I’m tired and sad and have little urge to write publicly at the moment. Below are links to blog posts some of my friends, classmates and past roommates have composed on the Virginia Tech Tragedy:
Stacy M, former roommate and VT Alum
Chris S, former roommate and VT Alum
Mike N, hiking/skiing buddy and VT Alum
Brian V, former coworker and VT Alum
Christina G, friend of 17 years writing from Germany
Jason C, former coworker and VT Alum
Love to All,
Greetings from Dulles Airport. As soon as I finish my post I will be laying down on the floor of Gate A6 and catching a few hours sleep. Mechanical problems caused our flight from Denver to be delayed for four hours so we missed our final leg to Roanoke.
I would like to think our three seats went to some family members or loved ones who were anxiously trying to get to Blacksburg. Can you imagine flying standby in that situation? It would be excruciating. Thinking our seats went to a good use makes it very easy to sleep on an airport floor.
Speaking of which, I best stake out my dark corner before it gets snatched away.
Larry, Lindsay and I heard the news this morning from Missoula, Montana. We got the bulk of the details from text messages and monitors in the airport bar. I wrote a bit about it on the first plane. Here are some quick excerpts (Not proofread!) before I board my next plane. It was written the confirmed dead was listed as 29:
My heart breaks in many directions. I contemplate what it’s like for the parents who sent their bright children off to study to have them killed so callously. I can’t imagine the difficulty the survivors and just the overall student population will have returning to class. And I mourn for the perception of our beautiful town.
No one will remember the beauty of our green mountains and trees and our stoic stone buidlings. No one will remember the beautiful sunsets over the nearby Appalachian Mountains. Perhaps even Virginia Tech will no longer be synomonous with “Michael Vick”
Rather, when one hears “Virginia Tech” their mind will race to recall the events of this day.
“The Deadliest On-Campus Shooting in U.S. History”
Larry, Lindsay, Ted, Jennifer and I were glued to the television in the airport bar. Silent and somber, interrupted with the beeping of our cell phones, bearing details from home that hadn’t quite made it to CNN yet.
The news doesn’t make me reluctant to return. Rather I wish I was already home– so I can embrace Sean, pet the dogs and feel as sad as I want in the privacy of my own home.
It’s been very surreal watching the details trickle in 2000 miles away. At moments, it can feel so real. Other moments, it feels so distant.
There has been an advantage of being so far away. I’ve got to witness the reaction of the country. CNN had uninterrupted coverage. President Bush offered his prayers to the families. But the image that will remain with me is at the gate in Missoula Airport. I tore my eyes away from the television briefly to look at my surroundings. There were a number of people at the gate who also had their eyes affixed to the television.
Two men even walked up, stood underneath the television so as to hear better.
There were strangers. These aren’t people from Virginia. These aren’t people who attended our university. Some of these people may not have even heard of Virginia Tech because it doesn’t have a competitive ice hockey team. But 2300 miles away, they are sadly watching the reports.
They share our heartache, they share our disbelief, they share our pain.
Blacksburg, Virginia is not alone today. Montana is with us.
I have to go and catch another flight. My heart still goes out to all the affected families and to all the students and faculty who’ll have trouble resting tonight. I wish I knew what else there was so say. I think a sad face sums it up the best.
Yesterday, Montana once again had better weather than Virginia. It was beautiful and sunny and in the upper sixties. I got to rollerblade in my 17th U.S. State (took the Bitterroot Trail System from McCormick Park to Southgate Mall). Later in the afternoon Larry, Lindsay, Jennifer and I went for a quick “hike” in Blue Mountain Recreation Area. We are also joined by the two dogs (Juna and Jasper) and a young woman named Rose who possess a radiant complexion, a beautiful smile and a very, very loud laugh. The park is extremely dog-friendly. As such, it has earned a nickname from the locals – “Poo Mountain”.
Well, I didn’t see any dog poo on our journey but I did get to see a lot of great views. Some pictures from our outing: