Marooned An Online Magazine for and by Communication Majors

A Lesson in Forgiveness

by Ashley Lewis

April 16, 2007.

Virginia Tech.

Even uttering one of these two phrases brings a quiet and eerie hush over crowds. 

There’s no need for any further explanation of these phrases, everyone’s reactions are always the same.  Conversations amongst close friends end abruptly as the air fills with uncomfortable pauses.  Laughter ceases, eyes lower, and brows wrinkle as the world silently mourns for the fallen students and faculty members of Virginia Tech.  People glance uncomfortably at each other as they try to grasp for something – anything- to say to fill the awkward silences. 
           
But what can you say?

I’m sorry about what happened?

I’ll pray for you?

As comforting as those words may sound to the Virginia Tech students, family and faculty, do they really take away the pain?

I doubt it.

Like everyone, I watched the events of the Virginia Tech campus tragedy unfold on national television.  I watched as CNN newscasters cued the dramatic crescendo of classical music at the beginning of every “Breaking News” segment.  I watched as the number of fatalities seemed to grow by the second on a scrolling marquee at the bottom of the screen.  I watched sensational and horrible descriptions of the day’s events flash boldly across the center of the television screen.

Massacre. 

Bloodbath.

Mass Murder.

But as I flipped through the news coverage the following week, something immediately caught my eye. A blonde newscaster solemnly reported on the 32 memorials shrouded with flowers, cards and stuffed animals placed in a semi-circle on the Virginia Tech campus, but my attention was drawn to the top left corner of the television screen. There was a slab of limestone set apart from the other memorials, but this memorial wasn’t covered with flowers, stuffed animals, and cards.  This memorial had only three words scribbled on it: WE FORGIVE YOU.

Three words. 

One powerful message.

WE FORGIVE YOU.

[page 2]