Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Terrible, Terrible Day

By John Gilstrap

Two years ago, the world changed irreparably.

My son Chris—my only child—was a student at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. He was never in harm's way, thank God, because on that particular morning he had afternoon classes. If the shooter had chosen a different day . . .
To finish the thought takes me to a place where I don't want to go. The fact is that Chris is fine.
The dead, however, remain dead forever, and the physically and spiritually wounded carry their trauma still. It's incomprehensible that so much pain and sadness invaded so many lives at the precise moment when their futures burned their brightest.

I think of the laughter that has been silenced. I think of the stories that will never be told, the landscapes that will never be painted, and the children who will never be born.
I think of the resilience of a remarkable community of students. I think of the outpouring of love from around the world, and the kind gestures of support that prove how such a horrific loss inflicts pain on all of us.

Today, my slice of the blogosphere is about the unspeakable cost of that day. Please read every name. Think a good thought for them. Pray that God continues to give their families strength:

Ross Abdallah Alameddine
Christopher James "Jamie" Bishop
Brian Bluhm
Ryan Clark
Austin Cloyd
Jocelyne Couture-Nowak
Daniel Perez Cueva
Kevin Granata
Mathew Gregory Gwaltney
Caitlin Hammaren
Jeremy Herbstritt
Rachael Elizabeth Hill
Emily Jane Hilscher
Jarrett Lane
Matthew La Porte
Henry J. Lee
Liviu Librescu
G.V. Loganathan
Partahi Lumbantoruan
Lauren McCain
Daniel O'Neil
Juan Ortiz
Minal Panchal
Erin Peterson
Michael Pohle
Julia Pryde
Mary Karen Read
Reema Samaha
Waleed Mohammed Shaalan
Leslie Sherman
Maxine Turner
Nicole White

They are Virginia Tech.


  1. Beautiful tribute, John!

    We've had our share of tragedy here in Pittsburgh recently, too. It's sad that it takes such devastating losses for people to remember how precious life is.

  2. John, thanks for reminding us to remember.

  3. Thank you, John. I join you in this heartfelt reflection.

  4. Thank you John for reminding us of the pain of loss. It is a difficult time for all the family and friends - of those who lost their lives as well as the survivors.

  5. When we as humans brush against death and yet continue our walk we should look through new eyes, as if born again. And then to live life with the knowledge that it is not guaranteed.

  6. John, thank you for sharing your reflection with us. I felt so sad as I read through the list of names, that these precious lives were lost.

  7. Every time a young person is lost, we lose a bit of light in the world. Thank you, John for your loving and thoughtful post.