By Lindsay Huffman
When tragedy strikes, it has a ripple effect that extends beyond the people directly affected by the event. This ripple effect is amplified as the intensity of a tragedy increases.So when someone at the university dies, that person’s family and friends are not the only ones affected-the death hits everyone on campus like a blow to the stomach.
No one knows what day might be his or her last. Circumstances beyond our control can change a person’s life in an instant-or possibly end it. It is in these latter instances when people come together to mourn and to sympathize.
But it is also a time of celebration. We should not remember these students, faculty or staff members by their tragic ends, but by the impressions they left on the people they knew during their lifetime.
As a campus, it is our duty to surround the people who knew the victim and comfort them. It is our duty to honor the victim’s memory, whether we knew the person or not. But more importantly, it is our duty to join together and remember that, in essence, we are a family.
In junior high and high school, most students did not get the chance to choose where they were educated. But all students and employees chose Eastern for one reason or another-because it’s the Campus Beautiful, because it has cheaper tuition rates than most institutions or because Eastern just felt like the place to be.
No matter what you based your decision on, the fact is that you came to Eastern with a purpose. And no matter how different a person may be from his or her fellow students or workers, we are all bonded by the fact that we are Colonels. We selected Eastern as the place to receive our higher educations, or as the place to receive a paycheck for the employees, and as a result of that, we have something in common with every other person who has ever chosen to be a Colonel.
Think of it as a sports team. It doesn’t matter how much a team member participates, the fact is that that person is incontrovertibly a part of the team. And even after that person has been gone from that team for fifty years, he or she can still feel a kinship with the people who now play on the team because they were all a part of the same thing as one time or another.
To continue with this analogy, think of sports games where a team member gets injured. The other members of the team don’t just stand and gawk at the injured person-they take a knee or show some other form of respect for their hurt friend.
It should be the same way with Eastern’s campus. When a student, faculty or staff member is badly injured or has died, we should show him or her respect because that person is, by default, one of our team members.
And the best way to show that person respect is to uplift his or her achievements in life, even if they are as simple as always showing love toward others.
When accidents occur like the one that took Hillary Hadley’s life, it is up to us to ensure that other students know just how important she was to so many people, rather than dwell on the accident itself. When someone like Zach Legg is taken from the world at so young an age, it is up to us to remember the impact he made on the people he knew and loved, and who loved him in return.
Whether you are a strong-willed person or not, whether you are good at comforting other people or not, now is the time, fellow Colonels, to rally around those who need our support. Now is the time to honor those students who did not have the chance to live to a ripe old age. Now is the time to remember how much those faculty or staff members helped us when they were alive.
There is a time for mourning, but after that comes remembrance. And that is the best parting gift we could give to our fallen friends.