Northern Illinois University Senior Jessica Cabe is an intern with WNIJ News this semester. She was not yet an NIU student when the tragic Cole Hall shooting occurred on Feb. 14, 2008. We asked her for her thoughts about this tragic event.
When tragedy strikes, the way a community reacts is very telling of its character.
On Feb. 14, 2008, five students were shot and killed in Cole Hall at Northern Illinois University. Even though there are few students still on campus who were there at the time, that event has shaped what it means to be a Huskie.
These five students are a part of the culture of NIU. I walk past their memorials almost every day, and I smile. I am reminded of how lucky I am to be alive and to have friends and family members whom I love.
I am reminded that, at any moment, all of that could end. Being faced with death on a daily basis may sound either sad or morbid, but I -- and the rest of the Huskie community -- have turned that into the greatest form of inspiration. Being reminded that this life will end is the best way to ensure life is lived to the fullest.
To those on the outside, it may sound like hyperbole. But ask any Huskie about the shooting and they will almost inevitably tell you the same thing: It was a tragic event that never should have happened, but it has brought us all closer together as a community.
Drawing attention to the shooting every year by holding a remembrance ceremony may seem unwise. Some might think the best course of action would be to move on quietly, letting the day fade away until its nasty memory is all but forgotten.
But we Huskies don’t want to forget. We want to make sure these students are remembered for who they were, even though most of us never knew them. We embrace the closeness this tragedy has brought us, and we don’t want to lose that feeling.
Tragedy struck NIU five years ago, and the way this community reacted was to find the silver lining. I am a prouder Huskie because of the way the community has grown closer, and I hope students for decades to come will walk past those five names by Cole Hall and remember that life is short, and life is sweet, and it is not to be wasted while we have control of it.