Monday, January 16, 2012

Appalachian School of Law Tragedy - 10 Years Later

On, Wednesday January 16, 2002, at 1:00 p.m., I was sitting in a classroom at the Appalachian School of Law ("ASL") preparing for my 1:30 class.  There were a few other folks with me at that time, and it was an otherwise normal day at ASL.  At 1:16 p.m., the lives of many changed forever, and the lives of three were taken prematurely by a senseless and cowardly gunman.  Not a day passes by where I do not reflect on the influence and kindness of those who lost their lives that day. As I reflect upon that day, I looked back at what I wrote as the Student Bar Association President in response to the horrible and unspeakable tragedy:

"The Students at the Appalachian School of Law are deeply saddened by the events of January 16, 2002.  First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family members and all of those affected by this tragic event.

"Tony, Tom and Angela meant many things to many people, but for all of us here, they were and remain true and dear friends.  These individuals will be forever missed in their spirits, their love and their contributions to the school and this community.

"To Rebecca, Stacey and Madeline, we wish you each a speedy and full recovery, as well as the resolve to put these events behind you.  Your classmates are with you.

"While yesterday's events were tragic and will never be forgotten, tribute must be paid to the many who displayed selfless acts of heroism.  To Ted, Todd, Daniel and to everyone else who played a key role in bringing an end to these senseless acts, we each thank you.  Your bravery can never be quantified or repaid, but will always be remembered.

"This community has faced many tragic times throughout its history, and while each of these events were separate and apart from the other, one common denominator always remains...its unity.  From each of these events, the community has rallied to become stronger than before.  Thus is the resolve of the students of the Appalachian School of Law."

If I could speak with those that lost their lives on that day, today, I'd say to Dean Sutin ("Tony"), Professor Blackwell ("Tom") and Angela Dales (first year student who once recruited for ASL prior to enrolling), that you inspire me every day.  I'd also tell them that their dreams of making the Appalachian School of Law into some place special have come true.  Then again, I know they can see all of this as they look down from above. So, on this tenth anniversary of that horrible tragedy, I renew my promise to move forward in honor of those who lost their lives, and sacrificed their dreams so that I could chase mine.

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