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Corn+Soybean Digest

Special Edition: Virginia Tech Tragedy

It was Friday the 13th and I had just finished playing in the NBA (Noontime Basketball Association) in War Memorial Gym like I have for the past 29 years at Virginia Tech. It was a beautiful spring day and I thought to myself how I was blessed to have worked at such a beautiful campus, as students leisurely passed by.

Within 72 hours, that was all turned upside down. The initial reports of gun shots across the CNN scroll on a cold, windy Monday morning seemed surreal. It was difficult to imagine that this was occurring in such an innocent place. The next 24 hours were beyond comprehension, with the news media flocking to campus, and seeing President and Mrs. Bush slowly riding by our office with a reassuring wave and smile.

Watching my colleagues and locker room friends being interviewed on national and international media seemed strange when just 72 hours earlier we were discussing the spring football game and petty university politics.

Alicia, Jill and I would like to thank all of you for the phone calls, e-mails, cards and text messages received from around the globe from those concerned for our safety while the ordeal was taking place and afterward, during our community’s period of grieving. In the days after the event, it was uplifting to see the flags at half mast in Pierre, SD, as I was running along the Missouri. The moment of silence observed by the agrilenders, and the big hug from an airport security person in Madison, WI, when he saw my license said Blacksburg, VA, were so thoughtful. The special banner of support from the youth in Freeport, IL, and the messages from Canada, all the producers, agrilenders, academics and friends were overwhelming.

We cannot let one individual tear us down. We must gain strength through all of this tragedy. We must live each day to the fullest, be there to uplift people, and make a better life in simple ways often exhibited in farm, ranch and rural life. We must celebrate the lives and accomplishments of those we lost, and remember in the end good people find good people in the game of life.

Go Hokies!

Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, The Corn And Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at

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