Today is the three year anniversary of the massacre at Virginia Tech, where a fellow classmate from my high school was fatally shot in her French class. Leslie was a friend of one of my best friends and was a friendly, unique individual who I never saw not smiling the entire two years I knew her. Nothing could have ever brought this girl down–she had the greatest attitude about life. She was an active member of the cross country team and track team in high school, which conveniently held practices on the same field as my lacrosse team. I remember her vividly cheering me on as I struggled to do sprints around the track during practice. Her enthusiasm and encouragement is something that to this day, still remains a legacy in all that knew her.
Leslie is buried in Arlington Cemetery, which to me is so symbolic of her deep love and passion for history. If she could have picked anywhere to be buried, I would guess Arlington would be the place–alongside all of her heroes. Visiting her grave two years ago was a very sobering experience. It was quite a hike to her grave site, but once we got there, it was a peaceful, closing feeling that I can’t quite describe in words. While I initially thought I’d be crying at her grave site, I took comfort in knowing that she is fine now. She is with God now, of this I am sure.
The thought of someone pointing a gun at her with the intention to kill her is something I will never be able to comprehend in my lifetime. Not just her, but any of the other 31 students that were killed that day as well. Their lives were taken by a sick, sick individual that I cannot even bare, to this day, to see pictures of him, knowing that was the last thing Leslie saw before she died. Though today I will be praying for all of the families still in mourning over the loss of their children, there is also another family who lost their child and that is Cho’s family.
How do you even have a funeral for someone who shot and killed 32 people before shooting himself? His parents have to grieve as well and today I am praying for them too. I hate that he took the life of Leslie and so many others. I hate that he was so mentally ill he felt the need to bring others down in the process. I hate that he worshiped Dylan and Eric from Columbine and made references to them in his video. I hate that he chose Leslie’s building to bust into and shoot everyone he could. I hate that people died trying to stop him. And I hate that only two people walked out of Leslie’s French class because of him.
But, through it all, I am convinced that Leslie’s legacy will live on in all that knew her for the rest of our lives. We will never forget.