I can still remember the feeling that ran through my veins when two gun-wielding students terrorized a Colorado high school in 1999.
I still remember shedding tears in 2007 when 33 people died senselessly at Virginia Tech University.
And again Thursday morning, when a tweet popped up on my phone: ‘Person with gun’ reported on Va. Tech campus.
The same fear that poisoned my body, had decided to run a third course.
In 1999 I was an eighth grader, excited and prepared for my first year in high school.
But the image of a boy just a couple of years older than me crawling out of a shattered library window changed my perception of what school was.
The impact of school shootings hit me harder when I was in college and people my age had been shot dead on a campus several states away.
I remember feeling vulnerable and sad. I remember watching the coverage and thinking late at night, "What would I have done? Where would I have hidden? And more importantly, could I have hidden?"
I opened up a map of my university, a school boasting about 20,000 students. At least 25 buildings scatter my Alma mater's university grounds and I will say, I had a hiding place in every one of those buildings.
But a student seeking an education should NOT have to be worrying about being shot dead by an off-edge student. A student seeking an education should have to worry about his future, his goals.
I shouldn't have been out at the university quad signing a large VT sign. I shouldn't have been feeling guilty for 33 lives, people my age, people sharing the same dream of being someone.
I still remember one instance, about a year after the Virginia Tech shooting, where I thought I was going to die. I had been walking to class and saw about 15 students run out of the communication building screaming.
I stopped, as did several other students. My heart dropped and I held fast to my cell phone. I started walking back the path I was on.
"Maybe I should head back to my dorm room," I thought.
But when I turned around again, the students were laughing and calm.
It turns out the group of people were first-year drama students working on some class exercise.
It's sad that the first thing I thought was "gunman."
Maybe I'm dwelling too much. I am not naive. I understand the world for what it is. I know the world at times can be sick, but it also is beautiful.
So the tweets keep coming about a possible gunman on the Virginia Tech campus, yet again.
All I can do is sit safely at my desk and hope for the best.
Parents and students, do you have these same fears? I'm sure you do. Let me know. Comment on this blog and as always you can follow me on Twitter at @j_r_ortega
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