I know it happened Tuesday night, so some people may have already moved on from this. But I just wanted to comment on the candlelight vigil on the campus of Virginia Tech, which I attended along with Meredith and two colleagues. I think I can safely speak for everyone in our group when I say that it was truly an honor to be there, to experience the remarkable range of emotions that radiated through the thousands of mourners.
There, of course, was great sadness. For many, their grief was overwhelming. But what struck me most about those in attendance was their equally overwhelming sense of pride -- in their fallen loved ones, in their school, and in each other. Even for us, as outsiders, it was hard not to be impressed by the students who conceived, organized and carried out the event; hard not to be inspired by the eloquence of Zenobia Hikes, the vice president of student affairs; and hard not to get caught up in the "Let's go, Hokies!" chant that broke the silence after the vigil's conclusion. So hard, in fact, that we were indeed impressed, inspired, caught up and so much more.
We stood at the top of the hill, near the speakers' podium. And as I looked out at the sea of shimmering flames below, held by people who will move on but will not forget, I kept reminding myself never to forget the scene. And I hope, as long as I live, that I never will. We live in cynical times, and I'm certainly a child of the age. But, even though the circumstances are often tragic, we still have moments that are so pure and so beautiful, you can't help but find your faith in humanity rejuvenated.
For me, Tuesday night was one of those moments.
One final point. Throughout the night, various members of Hokie Nation -- men, women and children alike, young and old -- came up to Meredith and hugged her. Some of them asked first, some just moved in for an embrace. All of them thanked Meredith for coming to Blacksburg, for supporting the grieving community and telling the stories of the fallen. It was incredibly moving to see, and Meredith herself was extremely emotional.
But they owed us no gratitude. They welcomed us into their community, told us their stories, allowed us to share in their pain and their hope. At a time when they could have turned inward, keeping the world out, they did just the opposite, teaching us lessons we may not have yet discovered.
So I guess this is just a long way of getting to my point, which is to simply say this to the people of Virginia Tech: thank you.