In the ten years since a mentally ill young man ran amuck with his guns and took the lives of 28 students and four faculty members — and wounded seventeen others — members of the Virginia Tech university community have gathered each year on April 16 to stand vigil and to remember those we lost.
I’d like to be there in person for the remembrance (I grew up in Blacksburg and received my masters degree there), but unfortunately, I have to be in Lubbock, Texas for work that day. In fact, I’ve never yet managed to be there for the memorial despite my active travel schedule. I’ve always hoped that I could route myself through Blacksburg on my way to Seattle or San Francisco or Tucumcari, but it just hasn’t worked out.
I wish I could say that the Virginia Tech massacre served as the Pearl Harbor-like wake-up call for the American people that finally got us to realize how out of control our love affair with firearms has become.
I wish I could say that the National Rifle Association realized that there are more important things in life than maximizing gun manufacturers’ profits.
I wish I could say that we, as a society, took a look at what happened in West Ambler-Johnston Hall and Norris Hall that awful day and decided “this far, and no further.” That it had to stop.
Unfortunately, I can’t say that. Blacksburg wasn’t enough. Sandy Hook wasn’t enough. Aurora wasn’t enough. Orlando wasn’t enough. Ten thousand gun homicides a year in the United States aren’t enough. Nothing’s enough.
Nothing’s ever going to be enough.
Our society has “addict brain” where our fetish for firearms is concerned, and the only thing that satisfies the craving, however briefly, is…
O why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Like a fast-flitting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passes from life to his rest in the grave.