Monday, April 16, 2007

A Tragic Education: Lessons from Virginia Tech

The bulletts have stopped flying and the facts are finally coming in about the tragedy at Virginia Tech earlier today. If you want a great firsthand report please check out my good friend Mason's report on . Mike does a great job of allowing us to see the story from the eyes of a husband, brother, friend, and neighbor. I hope he continues to update us on those who will continue to live the story long after Brian Williams and NBC's live truck have moved on.
My television station is just one of a hundred media outlets that has sent in troops to surge the Blacksburg campus. I have faith that we are there for the right reason. My neighbors are asking questions about their sons, daughters, and neighbors. Contacting those at school is still tough, even at the writing of this entry. I hope my colleagues continue to inform, and not impede the truth from coming forward. We all have questions, but we must first let the blood dry before we can ever expect an answer to rise. I am again, not in Blacksburg. I can only imagine the scene.
January 16, 2002. This is the date of my first big lesson as a member of the media. 3 dead, 3 wounded. The teacher for this lesson was a 43-year-old man named Peter Odighizuwa. The Nigerian law student was disgruntled over his treatment at the Appalachian School of Law. Odighizuwa terrorized students at the school with his .380 semi-automatic weapon. I'll be honest with you, the day of the shooting is still sort of a blur to me.
My first real memory about the shooting occurs four months later. I was once again sent back to the school for the graduation ceremony. The three lost souls: the Dean, Anthony Sutin, Professor Thomas Blackwell, and student Angela Dales were still fresh on the graduates minds. The symbolic ceremony involved three recently planted trees with plagues to honor these innocent victims. As the students filed past, each dropped a single flower and said a few words. I still consider it to be the single most powerful image I've ever had the pleasure of capturing. Right in front of me was the plague, a single rose falling from the top of the frame and landing safely at the bottom, all the while an out of focus but clearly defined processional line files by the trees to the soundtrack of bagpipes.
That was the moment. That was the moment where the story became clear to me. There was more than just seven lives effected the day Odighizuwa pulled the trigger. Every student who walks the grounds of the school on this very day are paying the price of Odighizuwa's actions. You can feel it. The tragedy lives on. This legacy is what awaits Virginia Tech.

Trying to see the world with both my eyes

I am the truth. Good or bad. Don't confuse me as someone who is your friend. I am the media. My world is seen through a box two inches by two inches. Take your ethernet connection... double the speed... process it a million times over... and explain it with no words. Easy enough. Now capture it with the right light, with the right angle, and do it without thinking. This is my everyday life. The only thing that changes is the object placed before me. My life, my stories, my choices are not perfect and they promise no happy ending. I am a photographer who refuses to be defined by a 4 by 6 dimension. This blog is my attempt to share my life and views through those souls who allow me to enter their mostly private lives and turn it into a public event. I hope to inspire, educate, and inform you through the triumphs and tragedies I experience everyday.

Anais Nin:
"The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself."