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Bush at Virginia Tech: "The worst day of your lives." Transcript.


Yesterday began like any other day. Students woke up, and they grabbed their backpacks and they headed for class. And soon the day took a dark turn, with students and faculty barricading themselves in classrooms and dormitories -- confused, terrified, and deeply worried. By the end of the morning, it was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history -- and for many of you here today, it was the worst day of your lives. -- President Bush at Virginia Tech, April 17, 2007.


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release April 17, 2007



Cassell Coliseum

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia

2:36 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Governor, thank you. President Steger, thank you very much. Students, and faculty, and staff, and grieving family members, and members of this really extraordinary place.

Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow. This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community -- and it is a day of sadness for our entire nation. We've come to express our sympathy. In this time of anguish, I hope you know that people all over this country are thinking about you, and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected.

Yesterday began like any other day. Students woke up, and they grabbed their backpacks and they headed for class. And soon the day took a dark turn, with students and faculty barricading themselves in classrooms and dormitories -- confused, terrified, and deeply worried. By the end of the morning, it was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history -- and for many of you here today, it was the worst day of your lives.

It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering. Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now they're gone -- and they leave behind grieving families, and grieving classmates, and a grieving nation.

In such times as this, we look for sources of strength to sustain us. And in this moment of loss, you're finding these sources everywhere around you. These sources of strength are in this community, this college community. You have a compassionate and resilient community here at Virginia Tech. Even as yesterday's events were still unfolding, members of this community found each other; you came together in dorm rooms and dining halls and on blogs. One recent graduate wrote this: "I don't know most of you guys, but we're all Hokies, which means we're family. To all of you who are okay, I'm happy for that. For those of you who are in pain or have lost someone close to you, I'm sure you can call on anyone of us and have help any time you need it."

These sources of strength are with your loved ones. For many of you, your first instinct was to call home and let your moms and dads know that you were okay. Others took on the terrible duty of calling the relatives of a classmate or a colleague who had been wounded or lost. I know many of you feel awfully far away from people you lean on and people you count on during difficult times. But as a dad, I can assure you, a parent's love is never far from their child's heart. And as you draw closer to your own families in the coming days, I ask you to reach out to those who ache for sons and daughters who will never come home.

These sources of strength are also in the faith that sustains so many of us. Across the town of Blacksburg and in towns all across America, houses of worship from every faith have opened their doors and have lifted you up in prayer. People who have never met you are praying for you; they're praying for your friends who have fallen and who are injured. There's a power in these prayers, real power. In times like this, we can find comfort in the grace and guidance of a loving God. As the Scriptures tell us, "Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

And on this terrible day of mourning, it's hard to imagine that a time will come when life at Virginia Tech will return to normal. But such a day will come. And when it does, you will always remember the friends and teachers who were lost yesterday, and the time you shared with them, and the lives they hoped to lead. May God bless you. May God bless and keep the souls of the lost. And may His love touch all those who suffer and grieve. (Applause.)

END 2:45 P.M. EDT


As a Virginia Tech Alumni I am disgusted that politicians are showing their faces and speaking at this event. Others may disagree with me. I believe that it is inapropriate for them to involve themselves. The families should be allowed to deal with this in peace. The only people that I believe should be involving themselves, are the police to deal with the crime scene, emergency officials to deal with the victims, counsellors to give psychological advice, pastors and rabbi's and clerics to give last rights and comfort, and of course the family members. ANY politicians, including the President, DO NOT belong there and are taking advantage of the situation.

Class of 2001

I totally agree with you there.

The president had no business showing his face at the University.

Der Sankt

The president obviously needs a political boost for his image. Mr. President - I think it is possible to make sense of this event, all we need to do is have an honest investigation by the student body and honest local police, and get all the facts into the open. Every aspect of this event has already been recorded and God knew it all long before it ever happened. The time is coming when all will be revealed.

to Christian Bikle: It isn't because you have a ax to grind with Bush, is it? The reason I ask is did you criticize when Clinton spoke at Oklahoma City and Columbine after those tragedies, or when Reagan addressed the nation after the Soviets shot-down the Korean Airliner? Are you also criticizing every 'Tom, Dick, and Harry, plus Mary" whose advocating more gun-control, since this tragedy'? Making it a political opportunity. And what the gun-control advocates won't mention is VA Tech, Columbine, LAX airport, the Russian school massacre, London Airport, and the Utah tragedy, all happened in areas that were gun-free zones. Guns just weren't permitted on the VA Tech campus. Of course, you are aware of that. And the other places I mentioned. Finally, I'd like to ask you a question: You are criticizing Bush for being there, but what about the memorial the school held. From what I saw on TV it wound up almost being a pep rally. All you heard was 'Go Hokies'. I question if that was appropriate.

Sorry I post the following comment in your blog as I don't see Micheal Sneed blog.

I was just wondering why we still don't see an apology from Michael Sneed who fabricate the Chinese shooter story?

It is really a shame.

to John Qing: John, very good point. But we both know the answer. Liberals only preach, they don't practice what they say. They can point-fingers without first seeing evidence. The Duke Lacrosse case showed that. And John, unfortunately, we still have a lot of ignorant people who put all people of Asian ethnicity into the same category.

John Qing - which liberals had to do with the Duke case?? Which ones? Name them and then name the "liberal" organizations that they belong to. I'm sure it will either come down to Clinton or Soros for you.

Duke Lacrosse case is/was a mess. It stemmed from one man (the prosecutor) trying to build up a career for himself during reelection.

You know who else does that? Conservatives. (see: Rove, Karl)

"They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Great message to send to the youth Mr. President.

The same people griping about Bush speaking at VA Tech (I'm a registered democrat, by the way) are silent about NBC playing this maniac's video over and over and over. The jerk knew he'd get his 15 minutes of fame from NBC, thats why he sent the video to them, and he was right. So I suppose now some copy-cat will want his 15 minutes as a result. So where is the criticism of this?....and Shawn Fassett, I think liberals had alot to do with the Duke Lacrosse players case. Mike Nifong was seen as the liberal DA who went after the Duke boys, regardless of proof or not, to satisfy his base, because he needed the black vote inorder to be re-elected. Also, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and a half-dozen women activists where all over Durham,NC, pointing fingers, and convicting these innocent young men, without a shred of proof, inorder to push a political agenda. And why are you ranting at John Qing, anyway. All John said was Sneed had said the gunman was a Chinese national, of which he was NOT. And John pointed that out.

At least Bush didn't take this as an opportunity to go on and on about the risks presented by allowing those with "unstable" mental histories access to guns -- as if the tragedy would have been understandable and less shocking had a student with a "stable" mental history shot some classmates. Violence will not be stopped by placing discriminatory restrictions on those with "unstable" histories as manifest by non-violent and legal expressions of any type of disturbance -- whether that was the case with this VA tech student or not. The weapons used in the killings don't belong on campus, regardless of the holders' mental history.

May the shcck felt by Americans after the killings at VA tech carry over to the institutionalized violence here and abroad promoted by the Bush administration and its supporters.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 17, 2007 3:27 PM.

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