Saturday, February 14, 2009

Forward, Together Forward

February 14, 2008 is a day that students at Northern Illinois University will never forget. One year ago today, shots rang out on our beloved campus. Shots that wounded 22 and took the lives of 5 members of the NIU family. Our lives were changed forever.
I know that I, along with probably most other people, think that a campus shooting is something that could never, or would ever happen to me. But it did! A little after 3 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon, a gunman entered Cole Hall and opened fire on a room of college students. He fired 54 rounds.
I was not on campus at the time of the shootings. I had already attended classes and was at work. I remember looking at my phone while at work and noticing a couple of calls from my mom. I was a little worried at that point. That was when I walked to the drive thru and heard on the radio what had happened. Panic hit! I had friends and family who were on campus. Where were they? Are they hurt?
More answers became known during the days that followed. As I learned the details of what had happened that day, my heart hurt. I had class in that building! My classes were held on Monday and Wednesday at that time. If it had been one day earlier, that could have been my class.
Five lives were taken from us one year ago. Ryanne Mace, Daniel Parmenter, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, and Gayle Dubowski.
I remember reading in an article something that a family member of Julianna Gehant said. She had served 12 years in the Army and Army Reserves. They said that they worried about her getting injured or killed while serving, but not while going to school. I think that that one statement is what broke my heart and hit closest to home for me. I never thought that our lives would be endangered while going to school. I never thought that I would have to fear for my life as I try to educate myself. I've always thought that school is one of the safest places that I could be. And now, it wasn't.
I can't even imagine the pain and suffering that the victims and family and friends still feel to this day. Our prayers still go out to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy and tragedies like this.

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