‘With hearts full of sorrow,’ Bush speaks at VTech

Katie Alberti

BLACKSBURG, Va. – After Virginia Tech experienced the worst shooting in the U.S. history, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush met with university members to show their support.

“Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow,” he began. “This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community. It is a day of sadness for the entire nation. We come to express our sympathy in this time of anguish. I hope you know people all over this country are thinking about you and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected.

“Yesterday began like any other day,” he continued. “Students woke up, and they grabbed their backpacks and they headed for class. And soon, the day took a dark turn, with students and faculty barricading themselves in classrooms and dormitories, confused, terrified and deeply worried. By the end of the morning, it was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history, and for many of you here today, it was the worst day of your lives.”

As he spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 students, families and faculty members, many students shed tears as he continued to speak.

“It’s impossible to make sense of this pain and suffering,” he said. “They (the students) were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, they’re gone and leave behind grieving families and grieving classmates and a grieving nation.”

After his speech, a sea of maroon and orange Hokies applauded. Students said it was comforting to see that the president felt so bad about the tragedy that he came to campus.

“I thought it was really powerful,” sophomore architecture major Chloe Csadenyi-Benson said. “Overall, it’s giving us strength to get over it and come together and show our Hokie spirit.”

Sarah Wright, freshman interdisciplinary studies major, agreed.

“It was reflective – it was just kind of soothing in a way. Everyone was together, I could feel a sense of community.”

Near the end of the ceremony, which included speeches by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and representatives from Virginia Tech, students showed how close they were after English Professor Nikki Giovanni made the closing remarks.

“No one deserves a tragedy,” she said. “We are Virginia Tech. … We are strong, and brave, and innocent and unafraid. We are better than what we think. … We will continue to invent the future. … We will prevail. We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.”

The crowd then rose from their seats and began to shout, “Let’s go Hokies.”

Contact news editor Katie Alberti at [email protected].