Don’t forget the victims

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2007

Whenever unspeakable tragedy hits we always ask the question, “why?”

It’s a natural human response to an event that is so shocking and tragic, as what happened on the campus of Virginia Tech.

In response to that question the media has dug up every little fact and information about the gunman and provided it to the public.

The latest surge of information, by way of the gunman himself (and NBC), is through disturbing video, photos and messages. He takes center stage as an evil, demented character spewing his hate and getting his own segment repeated on news outlets across the nation.

Now everyone knows his face, his name, his sadistic ideology and ramblings—exactly what he wanted.

And just like that those 32 lives that were violently taken by him are forgotten.

The true victims become just another number or a smiling face on a glossy photo, while everyone obsesses about the person who committed these crimes.

It’s a common occurrence that can be seen in each murder or act of terrorism.

We all know who bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, who shot the students at Columbine High School and who coordinated 9/11.

But can we name one victim from any of those events?

We always recollect what happened, what time it was, where we were, but we always forget the victims.

A few years ago I read a book called “A Rip in Heaven” by Jeanine Cummings. By far it was one of the best memoirs I have read.

It’s a about a family that experiences the loss of two members through an act of violence.

It tells the rollercoaster of emotions the family is thrown into after the murders of Cummings’ two cousins and the unjust incarceration of her brother, who was eventually cleared of the murders when the four individuals who committed the crime were found.

At the end, Cummings writes about how her family participates in a documentary they thought would focus on the life of their loved ones; instead as they sat down to watch it they were devastated as the program centered on one of the murderers.

It’s the same position that the families and friends of the Virginia Tech victims are in, as well as the whole campus community.

To have the individual who committed this crime shoved in their faces makes the act take on new victims and re-victimize the survivors and the families.

Many of the students and family members have come forward to the media, voicing their displeasure of seeing the gunman’s image everywhere.

Some have gone to the media to tell their child’s or friend’s story to counter act those stories.

The brother of one student is even going so far as saying for every minute his brother’s story is shown it takes another minute away from the gunman.

So, why is it we’re so interested in people who commit crimes like these? Maybe we just want to see why that person did it or perhaps it’s the way it’s presented to us.

But last thing we should do is make them a media darling.

When we remember family or friends who have passed we don’t think about the manner in which they died, we think about how they lived, what they said to us to get a laugh or the wisdom and enrichment they brought to our own lives.

Death, as morbid as our culture sees it, is a chance to celebrate life.

As the repercussions of the Virginia Tech killings plays out we all should take the time to learn about the victims or at least think about them, because in the end they’re the only ones that deserve it.