When I was growing up in Northern Virginia, Virginia Tech was considered the "13th Grade." Dozens of my classmates and many of my dearest friends headed to Blacksburg after High School.
The fall of their freshman year, many of them returned home with their cars covered with stickers declaring their "HOKIE PRIDE". I had no idea what a Hokie was, and even the best explanations only further confused me.
This week, America and I learned what it means to be a Hokie. We watched in horror as their campus was terrorized, and watched in awe as they pulled together. We saw students go home to be with their families and return to campus comfort their classmates. We watched them operate with courage, dignity and class during even in the most difficult moments.
Today, I watched thousands of brave students return to class. Among them Derek O'Dell. He was shot in the arm by Seung Hui Cho during his German class. After the gunman left his classroom, he tied a belt around his wound to stop the bleeding; called 9-1-1 and helped classmates barricade the door. Cho came back and kept shooting.
Today, Derek's bullet wound is still raw, and he appears to still be in a bit of shock, but he was determined to move on, even if he's moving a little slower.
Derek O'Dell is a Hokie -- now, we all know what that means.