Madness at Virginia Tech

We live not 25 miles south of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech. So this recent horror has happened in our very back yard.

Even closer to the killing fields, Ann works at the hospital shown so often on the news over the past few days, as some 17 victims were sent there–the closest hospital to campus. She had an entire work day of thinking “this could have been our son or daughter”.

I don’t have any insights to offer. Like so many others, I’m just sort of numb. Stunned. Saddened, angry, perplexed.

Funny–After talking with my mom and others her age on my visit last week about how safe they used to feel in downtown Birmingham, I had been contemplating the idea of a piece for the Floyd Press. It would ponder what in the world has happened to this country that we have become so fearful of one another, of strangers, of city streets, of shopping malls and bus stops and parks.

What has happened that we have made our homes into fortresses from which we seldom venture? How is it that we feel safe only in groups? We fear for our children. We make them play indoors for fear of abduction or drive-by shooting. Schools hire policemen with guns to patrol the halls. What is going on?

And then this.

What forces, spirits, convictions or conventions so miserably absent today once constrained man from violence against his fellow man? Have we begun to believe something different, something far lesser about the meaning and value and purpose of life? Or have we merely forgotten those convictions that so many held for so long in what was once in many ways a more civil society under God?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. sad, sad day……..

    and, unfortunately, violence has been going on throughout our entire human history….ever since the fall of man. and i’m afraid it won’t go away….. i don’t believe that mankind is inheritantly good…in fact, i believe it is the opposite. i pray and hope that good can somehow come out of this evil and cling to the knowledge that there is an ultimate Light that darkness can never extinguish…..

    your community is in my heart and prayers…..

  2. This was so sad and my heart goes out to the families. It seems like the young man who did this was a very disturbed individual.

  3. Just two days ago, I submitted to your blog through Scribd, falling for the beauty of Virginia has to offer. And yesterday, record was made here, but a tragic one. Could this be a coincidence?

  4. Is Ann all right? What a horrible day at work.

    I thought of you guys a lot yesterday. Glad you’re bearing up.

  5. my sister camelia and her husband jim live in floyd co. and work at VT. our dad'(uncle johnnie’s cousin) family live in so many of the towns in this area. 3 of our cousin’s work for the christiansburg police dept.