Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The most important question to me...

The closer we have gotten to the one year anniversary of the tragic events of 4-16-07, the more I have thought about what it means to me. First, since that time, my wife and I have had a baby - a little girl - and she is such a joy. From time to time I get really sad in thinking about what it must have been like to have been a father of one of those young ladies murdered last year. I am brought to tears every time I think of what I would do if someone told me that my little girl wasn't coming home any more. The other thing that lingers - and will stay with me all my life - is the heroism of Dr. Liviu Librescu. In his life, he was an accomplished scholar - I hope to live up to what I'm sure would be his expectations of an academic.

But it is his death that speaks to me most strongly. At one point, I left a paper near his memorial stone (it was the day the Yankees visited), on which I wrote (as I recall), "There are many questions from 4-16-07; many remain unanswered. To me, only one matters, "Would I stand in front of that door?" I signed it "Educators everywhere." I have not idea how long it was there - or even if any of the visitors saw it. But, as a teacher - it is the one burning question that overrides all other debates. WOULD I STAND IN FRONT OF THE DOOR? Dr. Librescu laid down his life for his students. This man, this scholar, father, husband, grandfather, survivor - he did the right thing. Would I? I hope I would - I hope I'd have his strength.

In John Donne's famous Meditation XVII (http://www.readprint.com/work-519/John-Donne), he talks about how that each person, while he or she is alive, has "gold" that cannot be spent, "Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it..." When we learn of a man's death(the bell that tolls), the passing takes out that person's gold puts into a useful form for us, the living. Dr. Librescu's action that day is my gold, and I will treasure it forever. Thank you so much sir, for your commitment to your students.

When I was talking to the young people at Torgersen Hall a couple of weeks ago, I looked at their faces and I felt so strongly why it is I am in education, and why I love teaching and learning - it is the because of the bright young students in our classroom. They are worth our investment.

Some thoughts and links as we approach 4.16.08

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of a tragedy that many of us still find hard to imagine actually happened on our campus. I will probably take some pictures at Memorial Park and post them to mark it. A new movie has been created about the SL memorial:

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking to a group of students at Virginia Tech who were part of a class working on digital archives related to the event and its aftermath [http://www.dl-vt-416.org/]. My talk was about the memorial in Second Life, and I talked a bit about Second Life itself (mentioned the "weird" along with that which reflects RL). I was a bit long winded, but everyone seemed interested - lots of good questions. One person asked why, on the memorial marker designated for the shooter, was a picture of the South Korean flag displayed. I could tell that it was something that he felt was not appropriate, given that no other flags appeared. I told him that the flag was represent the shooter, as I did not want to display his face (nor will I). I should have also mentioned that the flag represented victims - his family was a victim, and certainly many South Koreans felt victimized by his violence. However, I told him that I would cover it up out of respect - I did that last week. Since the flag might be interpreted as blame, I can see his point. I am glad he mentioned it, as the point of the memorial is not to hurt or offend anyone.

Let me just say again how thankful I am to Mr. David Marston (of Maryland, USA) for his tireless efforts in creating, designing, building, and maintaining the VT Memorial on "Memorial Park." As I told him today while chatting in SL, his efforts are every bit as important as RL memorials and remembrances.