Today is Easter and also the tenth anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. On April 16, 2007, my oldest son was a senior at Virginia Tech and I will never erase the memory of that day and being on the phone with him as we watched the coverage of the mass shooting on TV.
He was safe.
But his engineering classmates and his professor that morning, Kevin Granata, were not. The class was working on muscle and reflex response and robotics projects. Professor Granata was helping my son fill some gaps in his software skills by working with him outside of class time. He was his adviser for his capstone senior design project team that was designing a biomimetic walking robot.
That morning Professor Granata heard the shooting and took about twenty students from a classroom to his office. After they were locked in, he went downstairs with another professor, Wally Grant, to investigate. Both teachers were shot. Professor Grant was wounded and survived, but Dr. Granata died from his injuries. The students locked in his office were all safe.
Kevin Granata was 45 years old. He was married with three children.
The university’s Day of Remembrance events this year began on Friday and continued today with the lighting of a ceremonial candle, at midnight, at the April 16 Memorial, followed by a wreath laying this morning and a full reading of the biographies of the 32 victims who were killed. There is a evening candlelight vigil at midnight, and then the ceremonial candle from the memorial is carried back to Burruss Hall.
My son was there Friday along with his wife who also graduated from Virginia Tech in his class of 2007. She was there recruiting for her employer. He made Blacksburg a stop on his way to North Carolina for a visit with John, a classmate and close friend.
Another classmate, Colin Goddard was one of the 7 students in his classroom of 17 to survive that day. He still has three bullets in his hips and knee. After the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT. Seeing the very young victims on TV made him feel like the way my wife and I and the rest of the nation watched his tragedy at Virginia Tech. He decided to work for gun safety.
Colin served as a Senior Policy Advocate for Everytown for Gun Safety, and when he decided to get his MBA at the University of Maryland, he continued to volunteer as a Survivor Fellow with the organization.
Everytown for Gun Safety was created by Michael Bloomberg to combine several like-minded groups (Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America) under one centralized umbrella. Everytown for Gun Safety will focus on background checks rather than gun bans, a course parents from Newtown took after being unable, even with President Obama's strong support, to get federal support in Congress for stronger gun regulations. They will also will fund grass-roots operations dedicated to ensuring anti-gun voters reach the polls.
Ten years - 3650 days - later and it doesn't seem like much, or enough, has changed when it comes to the way Americans deal with gun violence.
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