- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2007

There was all this gaseous talk of healing at Virginia Tech this past weekend, of the start of a college football season helping restore a sense of normalcy to a campus that was the site of the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history last spring.

Sport serving as a succulent is as old as the games themselves.

The Olympic Games were started as a way to bring nations together in harmony, to foster a sense of international brotherhood that ultimately would lead to global peace in some distant future.

This has not been the outcome, of course. If anything, the Olympic Games are forever political instruments being co-opted by state leaders to tout whatever it is they are pushing on the masses.

There can be no genuine healing for the families of the 32 dead at Virginia Tech. There always will be an emptiness in their hearts, a hole that no sporting event ever can fill.

Families are forced to come to terms with so much promise being cut down by a nut job. Parents burying their children, for whatever reasons, is an unnatural part of life. It happens, whether because of disease or automobile accidents or war. But parents raise children with the assumption that one day the children will preside over their funerals as adults.

That never can be for the parents and families of the 32 dead, and nothing can ease that bitter realization other than time.

The hype attached to the game probably was a sad reminder of the worst day ever for the 32 families, a sinking recognition that life goes on, no matter the circumstances, because the human condition requires it.

The Virginia Tech-East Carolina football game followed the release of a tome-like report that detailed the shortcomings of the school administration on the day of the shootings, with a number of parents and relatives of the slain demanding the resignation of Charles W. Steger, president of the school.

If he is disinclined to resign, they say, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine should fire him, along with Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum.

Kaine has rebuffed the request of the aggrieved, who make it clear their hurt cannot be assuaged by a memorial that honors the slain.

That is the reality of those who must live with the devastating loss of a loved one, and no pregame ceremony honoring the slain is about to fill the loss of a lifetime.

That is what we in the media often do. We make superficial claims around the complexities of the human heart. We did this after the baseball season resumed following September 11. We held up the game as a symbol of our perseverance and grit. In actuality, we all went about living our lives the day after September 11 in whatever fashion necessary, and the resumption of the baseball season was merely a late acknowledgement of that fact.

The students, faculty and administration at Virginia Tech undoubtedly must move forward and get beyond the actions of a madman whose thought processes can”t ever be understood.

Yet those who saw some great restorative power in a football game possibly are forgetting a long-ago ache in their hearts, the passing of someone dear and how awful it felt, even if the person who passed away lived a full life and died of natural causes.

The parents and families of the slain have the incriminating findings of the eight-member panel. They have the numbing truth of university officials believing the first shooting was a double homicide resulting from a domestic dispute, which led to the two-hour gap in notifying faculty and students that there possibly was a homicidal maniac in their midst.

A campus-wide warning after the first shooting might have saved lives, the panel found.

That is what the parents and families of the 32 dead must process in the dark crevices of their minds.

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