Our entire community is engulfed in grief and mourning and a hungry need for information. There is also an amazing outpouring of love and support. There is a collection box in the front of Wal-Mart for donations to the victims or their families. Most everyone at my son’s soccer game was wearing maroon and orange this evening. Barnes & Noble closed early so employees could attend the candlelight vigil on campus. Texas Roadhouse hosted its own candlelight vigil tonight. Flags are flying at half-staff everywhere. Remember how everyone wore red, white, and blue and flew American flags after 9/11? In this valley, this week, it’s VT hats and Hokie sweatshirts and maroon and orange ribbons safety-pinned to blouses and VT flags flying outside homes and from cars. It’s little boys in Hokie football jerseys and businessmen wearing VT ties with their suits.
Near-constant coverage of the tragedy at Tech is airing on our television stations. Our local news is not reporting about sports or weather. The extra-long news broadcasts are all about Virginia Tech and the horrible thing that happened yesterday. Though a complete list of those students who were killed has not been released, some family members and friends are talking to the media about daughters, sisters, sons, husbands, friends, and co-workers whose lives were taken.
My eyes tear as I hear about the band member who was a good listener and a wonderful encourager. My throat constricts as I see the brother tell about how close he was with his sister. Students share about their admiration for the professor who gave his own life holding a door closed so his students could escape. His son and wife grieve but the grief must be softened knowing this man died so honorably. Others share stories of the daughter who was always smiling or the friend who always made everyone laugh or the first grandchild who was the princess of the family. And the entire nation sees the pictures of these innocent victims and mourns with the families. As well we should.
But there is a father in Centreville, Virginia who also mourns for his son. There is a mother who knows the son she loved, the son she rocked to sleep, the son whose brow she kissed goodnight is gone forever. There is a sister who may log onto Facebook and see messages calling her brother all sorts of vulgarities. This family feels no outpouring of love and support. They most likely feel shame and embarrassment and perhaps even guilt.
This innocent family, the family of Cho Seung-Hui, also needs love and compassion and prayers. They need to know that we do not hold them responsible for the choices of their son and brother. They need to know that we understand they too are mourning, mourning for Seung Cho’s choices and mourning for his mental illness and mourning for his life as well.
When you pray for the victims of yesterday’s tragedy, please pray for the Cho family.