Take time to remember on Feb. 14

By Kim Skibinski

I went to the Feb. 14 memorial for the first time Tuesday.

Although I’ve been enrolled at NIU since August 2008, I could never gather the courage to pay my respects at the past three wreath laying ceremonies. Part of the reason, I believe, came from the fact that I was not here on Feb. 14, 2008. I felt a little out of place because I could not understand what it felt like to be a Huskie at that time.

The other reason, though I hate to admit it, was because I was afraid to go. I was a high school senior when the shooting happened, and even though I wasn’t on campus, I watched and felt the profound effect the shooting had on my friends who were. I wasn’t ready to handle those feelings when they resurfaced, and staying at home or work was my way of acknowledging the tragedy without making an emotional investment in it.

That changed Tuesday. That afternoon, I stood in front of the newly-opened Cole Hall alongside other students, faculty, staff and community members, openly mourning and remembering the victims. The ceremony was sad and somber, but I also felt an overwhelming sense of pride and unity in this Huskie family.

I made a mistake in not going to the ceremony for the last three years, and I wholeheartedly regret it.

I’m not saying it’s right or wrong to participate in these memorial services; I completely understand why someone wouldn’t want to go.

The important thing, however, is to know and understand our shared past as Huskies and remember those we lost along the way.

And, each Valentine’s Day, take a moment to honor the cherished five. It’s the least we can do.