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Where do we go from here?

We lost friends yesterday, friends we knew well and friends wewill never know. Families lost sons and daughters. There is nothing to think or feel but the most profound feeling of loss.

But this loss, in a moment of overwhelming grief and anguish, leaves us with renewed gratitude for what we share -- our lives, our hope and our humanity. Thirty-three men and women were killed yesterday in Blacksburg; many were students pursuing the purest cause. Where do we go from here?

We will talk in public of heroes and courage, the tragedy of innocent death and the helplessness and horror of watching it all on television miles away. We will talk of the past, what could have been done and what is to be done in the future to prevent such senseless slaughter from ever occurring again. But in private we weep.

We weep because we know, despite all hope, that much of what happened yesterday could not have been prevented. Tragedy, it seems, always manages to wrench us from our innocence and, as if to remind us all of our mortality and our vulnerability, it reveals to us the language of death. We cannot help but share the crushing sense of weakness.

We search for the right words to express all the grief and sadness, the bewildered frustration and fury, but nothing comes. We search for answers to questions that cannot be answered. Perhaps it testifies to our solidarity that we ask those questions together. And we face the uncertainty together. Still, the sadness remains. Where do we go from here?

There will be questions we can answer. There will be some we cannot. There will be time to level blame and there will be time to rage against all the unchangeable realities that plunged a bright, Blacksburg morning into darkness.

But where do we go from here? That may be one of the questions we cannot yet answer, but as time and patience heal all wounds, the answer will emerge. Life would not be worth living if it did not. In the meantime, our thoughts will never leave our friends and family in Blacksburg.

Now is the time to mourn. Cry for lost friends and laugh with friends who still can. Take time to remember the jeers, the chants, the stolen Hokie Bird and the annual, epic clash of football rivals. Remember, too, that even rivals play on the same field. We both breathe the same air and cherish the same friends. We both think of those friends today. What a sad, excruciating day it took to destroy our differences and render rivalry into brotherhood.


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