Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Wal-Mart visit reveals the day's stories
It's 1 a.m. in Blacksburg. The farmland surrounding the school is pitch-black, and dozens of restless people, weary of endless hours of news coverage or hospital vigils are at Wal-Mart.

I'm here looking for socks, pj's and food (after living off the hard candy provided by Virginia Tech staff at their impromptu press center). But moving around the 24-hour superstore, I see the stories of the day.

Three workers from the Salvation Army are shopping for breakfast food for displaced students. Richard White of the Roanoke office is smiling in his Salvation Army uniform but his eyes are turning red.

Two young women are buying fruits and veggies for friends waiting at the hospital, which is just a few miles away.

A cashier tells me another young woman came in just 45 minutes earlier from a hospital, looking for a break from her vigil. The cashier says that while the girl was at Wal-Mart she got a call saying her friend had died. The officials from the hospital are asleep and I can't confirm the story. But the cashier and others working agreed the girl they saw was in pain. One has tears in his eyes, too.

A few aisles away, four 20-somethings are looking at racks of Virginia Tech jackets, hats and shirts. Only one is a student at the university but the two men and two women insist they had to do something, had to show some support for the school. They buy burgundy and orange shirts and pledge to wear them to their jobs Tuesday.

Dozens of people are here, but none of them look like they can sleep.

-- By Lisa Goddard, CNN Radio Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 2:30 AM ET
  2 Comments
I'm at work checking CNN.com while on my lunch break, crying for the first time since this horror started. I just read your blog. It touched me more than any of the news reports, on-line reports, or radio reports. It humanized the entire situation. Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Laruen Orrok, Phenix City, AL : 1:07 PM ET
I've been reading about this tradgedy for two days now, and this was the first story to make me cry. I can picture the faces of these people, wandering through walmart. It really makes you consider the horrible idea that this could have happened in any college town across America. I know here the front page of our local paper detailed plans for emergant type situations at Northern Michigan University. I wonder if the need came, would it take our local people two hours to get warning out. I hate to think of how many elementary schools, hospitals, daycare centers, stores that are within walkind distance of the V.T. campus, let alone the 26,000 students. This tradgedy should make every towns' governments re-examine policies and plans in place, and correct them if need be. It seems as though the greater majority of victims at V.T. could have been saved, had they been warned, or had the campus gone into lockdown mode immediately following the first attack.
Posted By Anonymous Alison Johnson Marquette, MI : 3:58 PM ET
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