Virginia Tech and April 16th Memorial Services. Why don’t they count the 33rd person to die that day?

This was an open letter I posted to my Facebook page and it really doesn’t have much to do with political, economic, or cultural liberty, but I still think it is very important relative to having a true Humane Condition on Earth. It was originally directed to fellow students, faculty, staff, and locals of my home town Virginia Tech University. Born in raised in Blacksburg, and the massacre of April 16th, 2007….was my freshman year.  Thanks for checking the page today, and please share/comment/like/re blog. Awareness is crucial.


Today is an important day. Not just for Blacksburg, and Virginia Tech, but for the world, and humankind. It might not be the first thing everybody thinks of around the world today, like it is for people that are here, or were here. It is still a very important day for civilization, and society. Civilization and society are global now. The world is smaller then it once was. Our troubles are shared and the troubles of others are shared among all of us. We truly are one Human ‘Race’.

Today is a day of remembrance; a day of sadness, remorse, regret, acceptance and defiance. Today is the day in which maintaining one’s identity, self-worth, and PRINCIPLES can be put to the test.

No matter how strong the man or woman, emotions as strong as those that accompany a day like April 16th, here in our community, are more than any one person can deal with. That is why we most often handle trying situations best when we confront them together. This is shown in many ways in Blacksburg on or around the 16th with different memorial services around town and on campus. I believe this is a great effort by people with noble causes. Humans need comfort and reassurance to maintain there principles through tough times, and the memorials are convenient and necessary, even for those who are away from family and friends.

There is a method to my madness, I wanted to express the importance I feel about maintaining principles in trying times, and I want to demonstrate how I feel it is relevant today.  We have all seen the signs, or received the e-mails notifying students and locals alike that there will be a “3.2 mile jog”, and other references to the number “32” themed events. Many people, perhaps even seniors at Virginia Tech, who weren’t here on that day in 2007, probably don’t even stop to think, “does that count the shooter?”. But those of us who experienced that day NEVER LOST COUNT. **I attempted to contact several of the event organizers to get a statement about the reasoning behind leaving out the 33rd American citizen, and Virginia Tech student that DIED on April 16th.** I am fully aware that the easiest reaction to this ‘count’ is something like “well yea, I guess you want to forget about “Cho”. I will admit that is how I felt originally. That didn’t settle with me and I have a sneaking suspicion that it might not settle with some of you either. To forget Cho is to waste the most expensive lesson we, as a community, have ever paid for. Hindsight is 20/20 we all know, but now we know HOW a mentally ill person can go without the needed care. Cho taught us these lessons, let us not forget them or we will be doomed to repeat them. If you disagree with me I respect your opinion and I know this is a sensitive subject and I will continue to try not to offend anyone in any way, but I must give my side of the story.  I have been accused of being “insensitive” to the victims families when I say that we should remember the life and death of ALL 33 people. I understand the logic behind this accusation, but I do think it is faulty. I know that the shooter was not a ‘victim’ in the same sense as the other people that lost there lives. But take a moment to put yourself in the frame of mind that it would take for you to commit such heinous crimes. That is not a healthy mind. This man was SICK. He was diseased just like someone with Cancer, Diabetes, or the Flu.

Cho WAS a VICTIM, a victim of societal neglect, exacerbated by mental illness. I am NOT asking us, as a community, to take on the guilt or feeling of responsibility for his death.  His mental illness paved the way, and his rage drove him. Social Service Bureaucrats allowed him to “fall through the cracks”.

Seung-Hui Cho was a member of the Human Race. That’s the same one as me and you folks. And he died. He died that day because his disease was terminal, and unfortunately, he took 32 others with him.

I have heard “character” defined many ways. There are two definitions that have always resonated with me; your quality of character can first be judged by what you do when nobody’s lookin’, and second, what you do when you have power.  Neither of those definitions are all-encompassing, but between the two I feel like I understand the idea well.

Our character MUST stay strong throughout these trying times. We must maintain our principles throughout.

Most specifically we must maintain our principles of respect and reverence to the entire Human Race of which we are apart. We cannot simply forget the bad, or the ugly. We must accept the world as it is, and we must forgive those who have disrupted our own peace of mind, forgiveness is the only way to reclaim that peace of mind.

To remember 33, is to forgive the 33rd, which is to free ourselves of resentment, fear, and anger. We can now be free again. Please tell the directors at these events tomorrow, that you want to remember 33.

Help me speak up about this.
Talk with your friends about this.
I want this to be discussed, if it is truly unpopular I will stop pushing for it.




14 thoughts on “Virginia Tech and April 16th Memorial Services. Why don’t they count the 33rd person to die that day?

  1. There are so many opportunities at Virginia Tech that I’m not sure it’s fair to say that Cho was a victim. He may have been mentally unstable but I woudln’t say that he’s a victim of social neglect. I went to Virginia Tech- and I was there during the shootings. Yes, he died- but he made the choice to kill himself. The other 32 were victims of what he decided- they didn’t choose to die or to kill themselves either. They didn’t deserve it- I’m not saying that he did deserve to die but they didn’t deserve to be murdered.

    • Thanks a lot for your comments. I agree wholeheartedly that no one deserved it. But I stick with that principle all the way, not even Cho deserved it. Be it demonic possession, mental illness, or whatever it was, he was a victim of it. How can we justify his death as ‘acceptable’, is it because he killed people? That doesn’t fit into my non-aggression principles…

      • How does anyone justify suicide? That’s what it is- nothing about him fits into any non-aggression principles.

        • In this instance, I’m referring to the condemnation, or damning of the remembrance of this man. That is not principled behavior, in my opinion. Again, I don’t want to upset anybody, this is just my opinion.

  2. Given the title of this page and with its focus on the entire human race, how can you come to any other conclusion? Cho was most certainly a victim of his mental illness and not to include him in the count is just bad math. But…….sometimes the human race is not as logical as math. Sometimes the human race makes up new rules as it goes along. That is part of what makes us special. I believe that some later generation will be able to include Cho in the count but this generation is hurting way to much to give him the same level
    of recognition. I have lived in Blacksburg my entire life and the feeling that i

    get around here during this anniversary is not the same condemnation of Cho
    that was present when this tragedy occurred but more so an effort not to
    mention him. Maybe that is not a good recipe for healing or even the best way to be “free again” as you mentioned, but maybe it is the
    best that we can do at this early stage of recovery. I do not think that we have to include Cho at this stage to prevent this oversight in our mental health efforts from repeating. The enormity of this event has taken care of that.

    I love your page and greatly admire what you are doing here. Please continue.

    • Thanks for your feedback I really do appreciate it. I was also born and raised and attend school here in Blacksburg. I know what you speak of when you say that the condemnation feeling is not as prevalent, and I agree.
      When I mean that we need not to forget Cho is not simply as an example of how to improve our mental health systems, but for our own health. You mentioned the section in which I said it takes acceptance to regain our own ‘peace of mind’. That is the driving force behind all emotional strains, how to return to “Normal”. I am saying that there is no “normal” until you forgive the person who has upset the balance. It will be very hurtful, especially for those that were the closest to the shootings, or the victims, but no one said it would be easy. This is simply advice; Advice for the person who feels ashamed for having the power to forgive even the most evil of acts. I think the “#32” themed events makes people inclined NOT to even THINK abut Cho. Our community has some healing to do, and it starts with forgiveness.

      Thanks again for your feedback, I’d appreciate any sharing, liking, or reblogging if you want! Have a good day, I’m off to classes on VT campus.

  3. I remember this like it was yesterday. I agree with you Adam. While Cho was not a victim in the same sense as the other 32, he was a victim of his mind. Something more should have been done to help him before this happened. 33 died that day. His family is mourning too. So sad.

  4. I know we tend to say that people who commit mass murder are sick. Mental illness does not make people kill. There are millions of Americans being treated, or in lots of cases falling through the cracks and are not committing mass murder. We forget that even in our developed civilization, evil exists. Cho could have been friendless because he was evil. He may have had evil in him for a long time. I do not think that we should include him in our remembrances of the people who were gunned down that day while going about their lives. Yes, it is a shame that his life was wasted. But I will not mourn him. I am glad that he know longer walks among us.

    • “I am glad that he no longer walks among us.” Is how you ended your comment, and with great style because my jaw was dropped after reading it. Does it give you pleasure to state so confidently, that this particular man who died is gone?
      “Yes, it is a shame that his life was wasted. But I will not mourn him. I am glad that he no longer walks among us.”
      It pains me to read something like that. It pains me because Cho was part of my race, the Human race. Do you think Cho’s parents mourn him? I’d bet my life on it.
      You said that perhaps Cho was evil for a long time, and that’s why he had no friends, etc… What Cho did was evil, we all agree on that. But I ask a different question, what if Cho has been a kind loving and caring individual for his whole life, but it was masked behind mental illness? Put yourself in the mind of a madman, and you will feel empathy. Empathy is sometimes the most crucial ingredient when you’re mixing up a batch of forgiveness. (Excuse the cooking references). I do not think that anybody is born into this world, evil at the outset. We are all good-natured humans when we are born. Nature slowly gives way to Nurture or the lack of, and evil may result. The difficulty with Cho is that even the ‘Nature’ in him was ill. Just imagine, for one second, what it must have been like in his head for the years leading up to the shootings. That is horrific.

      Regarding the other non-sadistic comments you made, you are right, Mental illness doesn’t make everyone who is mentally ill commit mass murder. Just like “guns don’t kill people” and “pencils (or keyboards) don’t misspell words”. What made Cho kill himself?

      You are also very right that we have forgotten there really is evil in this world. Is the main problem here that we simply cannot recognize it? What does evil look like?

      I raise those questions to demonstrate that the very idea of “evil” may differ from person to person. Not only that, but what is evil? Matter? Spirit? Brain Damage? Ideology?

      And I ask those questions to demonstrate that evil is a social construct, similar to ‘race’ or ‘class’. It is true that some of the most evil deeds are not done by evil people. Heinrich Himmler’s SS of 3 million pure-blooded Aryan soldiers, couldn’t have been void one single “nice guy”?

      I am not willing to dismiss Cho into a vague social construct which changes with time, morality, and culture. I could not relieve the resentment I felt towards Cho, by just “chalkin it up to EVIL”.

      You are free to mourn who you please, and to forget who you please. The last thing I ever want to do is push my morality onto someone else. (see. U.S. Government) I respect your opinion and value your feedback immensely. It is ok to disagree! That’s why this site is so cool! We should all come back to it every day!

      In Liberty,


  5. This is a very interesting and respectable perspective. I took part in the remembrance run and the vigil and as you stated the theme is and has always been ‘remember the 32.’ For me these events weren’t so much ‘remember’ the 32 as it was ‘honor’ 32, and therein lies what I believe is the difference Cho and the other victims. While I may agree that Cho was a victim in his own right, I don’t believe he deserves to be ‘honored’ with the other victims. Cho will forever be connected with the events of 4/16 so I don’t believe he will ever be forgotten. We will eventually gain greater understanding and possibly grant him forgiveness, but I don’t believe he ever will be or should be honored. This may be an extreme comparison but the example that comes to mind is Hitler. While Hitler never underwent a psychiatric evaluation, it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch assume he may have had some kind of mental illness. I agree with you in that humans are born with good nature and the fault occurs someone where along the nurture line. Hitler was also a member of the human race, husband and a son. But I wouldn’t expect any memorial that honor Holocaust victims to ‘remember’ Hitler, let alone ‘honor’ Hitler as well. I agree with your notion to develop greater understanding (and maybe even sympathy) for mindset of Cho and what may have caused him to commit such heinous acts. But to ask us to honor him is another story. Again, this is my personal opinion and certainly respect yours.

    • I really appreciate your thoughtful feedback. You also make very good points that I have, and will continue to consider deeply. I was discussing this issue with a friend yesterday, this friend also made the comparison to Hitler, and a Holocaust memorial. I can’t argue with that, as I have no idea what it was like to be in Dachau in the spring of ’39, or Auschwitz in the Winter of ’43. I have no experience in trying to overcome the emotional scars inflicted by the Nazis. I will never argue that Hitler should be honored, and it is not my place to forgive him on the behalf of those that did suffer.
      I do however have the experience of living through the events of April 16th, 2007 and the continuing aftermath. When I began writing this I did not have an agenda, other than to remind at least one person, that Cho was human. I wanted to do this because of the personal benefits I have experienced just by talking about the issue. It has allowed me to step back and take an ‘objective’ view of the entire tragedy. It is my opinion that this was a preventable tragedy. I’m not referring to the inexplicable delay between shootings, simply because that is a can of worms to big for this discussion ;-). I’m referring to what I can only explain as a lack of Humanity. I don’t accept the notion that a man this sick, who had been seen not only by countless professionals before coming to Blacksburg, but most importantly, by hundreds of students, teachers and other human beings. By saying I cannot accept this, does not mean I think it was some crazy conspiracy theory, not at all. I mean that we should not accept a society in which such a sick and suffering individual that lives among us can go unnoticed. We are inherently social creatures. We must break down the artificial social barriers that made this possible. Artificial social barriers ‘regulate’ everyday interactions and relationships, and we are seeing the unintentional reactions, or ‘blow-back’ in Intelligence terms.

      I understand that this is probably not the most common deduction that people make when discussing this tragedy, and that is why the memorials are ’32’, no one could expect an entire community to have the same opinion, and we should not do anything to divide the community.

      I still think it is imperative to accept, and forgive, and I will continue to spread awareness of the issue. One day we will walk 3.3 miles.

      Thanks so much for reading and I’ll always answer any comments, and you might just disagree with me a lot so you keep coming back!


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