Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blacksburg transformed

I want to share a moving reaction to last week's tragedy in Blacksburg, Virginia. It comes from a Blacksburg resident, David Pitonyak, who is a friend of my friend Lisa Lieberman here in Portland.

Lisa shared a letter David wrote in the hours after the massacre, and David has kindly given me permission to share it with you. To find out more about David and his work you can visit his web site.

Friends and Family:

I was in Vancouver, Washington, when the terrible events of April 16th unfolded. Cyndi called me early in the morning and asked me if I had the television on. She was in "lock down" at Kipps Elementary School and all she knew at that point was that a gunman was on the loose, having killed one or two people, injuring seven or eight others.

I turned on the set and there it was, the story unfolding — the now all-too-familiar images of cops running up the steps of Norris Hall, ambulances racing away with possible survivors, confused students looking on. First it was two dead, then it was eight; suddenly, impossibly, it jumped to 22 and soon it would be 33.

My community was being turned into another place. Some other place I could barely recognize.

It's Wednesday and I am catching the red eye home. For the third night in a row, I can't sleep. The plane is equipped with satellite TV and I can see those images from the other Blacksburg flickering from the backs
of seats.

I am so fed up with watching, but I can't stop myself from watching. Where is that place? Why is everyone crying?

So many of you have been so sweet to write or call. Cyndi and I want you to know that it has meant the world to us. As much as we would love to write or call each of you, as much as we would love to give you the details, we are too stunned and too tired to make much sense of anything.

So, with that said, a simple summary:

We are OK

The boys are OK.

We are all safe.

We are praying for those who have been killed or injured. We are praying the man who did the killing.

Mostly, we are thinking about the Moms and Dads who lost their babies in all of this (we simply cannot imagine what they have been going through).

So pray for them if you have a minute. Pray for them even if you aren't the praying kind. While you're at it, pray for the whole damn planet because there are just too many Moms and Dads losing their babies these days.

We will catch up when we find energy and heart.

I plan to put on my hiking boots soon and walk everywhere I can — down our Main Street, through the Tech Campus, over and around Kipps Elementary.

I will let you know if I find my town again.



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