The tragic events that took place at Virginia Tech on 16 April 2007 have affected me more than words can describe. As I sat and watched the news reports last night, I found myself in floods of uncontrollable and unexplained tears.
I was upset for all of the shooting victims who were killed and maimed, and for their families, friends and associates. I was upset for all the people who bore witness to this atrocity, those who were on campus or nearby, and for all the emergency personnel who attended the scene and / or treated the victims. And I continue to be upset for everyone directly and indirectly related to the events.
Most of all, I was and continue to be upset for the family of the shooter and for the shooter himself, Cho Seung-Hui.
This damaged young man has left an indelible imprint in the modern history of the world. People may forget his name in the not-too-distant future, but his actions will never be forgotten. And this is the burden that his family members will carry for the rest of their lives.
His parents will never forget the boy they brought into the world, for whom they moved to another country for a better life. They will never forget the happy and precious times shared with their beloved son. But they will also never forget what he did on the morning of 16 April 2007. And they will never forgive themselves for not being able to stop their son from turning into the monster who brutally took the lives of 32 human beings before taking his own. Nor will they ever stop asking the questions “Where did we go wrong?” and “How did we let this happen?”
According to those who met him and shared classes with him, Cho was the “question mark kid” who distinguished himself for being anonymous. His teachers worried about the English major’s macabre plays and writings, whilst his classmates joked nervously that Cho would do something awful. A number of people who had dealings with Cho were so concerned about his demeanour and behaviour that he was reported to the authorities, the department heads of his courses and campus counsellors.
Somehow, somewhere, something failed. And nothing prepared the world for what Cho unleashed on his unsuspecting classmates at Virginia Tech.
Cho will forever be remembered as a mass-murderer; a cold-blooded killer; a loner who was disturbed, threatening and creepy; a monster who was evil, a deranged psychopath.
Cho should also be remembered as a son, a brother, a human being.
I hope that all the people affected by this tragedy (especially Cho’s family) find strength to move forward in the face of this indescribable adversity and unimaginable sorrow. I hope they find comfort in the ideal that their loved ones are in a better place, albeit leaving this world in such a violent and unexpected way. And I hope peace has found Cho.