Was it really eight years ago that Virginia was in the news with the horrible campus shooting at Virginia Tech? I cringed as I sat glued to the news stations that day the same way I flinched and grimaced yesterday every time they ran the story of another Virginia shooting. I felt sadness for the victims and the long lives they were denied by a few seconds of hatred from a deranged co-worker. I felt the shock the parents and partners of these victims started their day off with this morning. And the poor lady lying today in a hospital, wounded by a coward who shot her in the back. I am appalled and angry as you probably are, too. But we will recover. It’s the people close to these victims whose lives changed forever in the split second of a gunshot that my heart breaks for. They will never recover.
This is not the Virginia I grew up in. That Virginia had a beautiful image. Magnificent seasons. Abundant history. Our state history was once the United States’ history. Eight Presidents were born here. Our heritage cries of honor and richness of tradition. And yet, that once proud image is tarnished by news days such as these. For the victims, for the families, for our state, I offer prayers of comfort.
We, the Statlers, had a weekly television show on WDBJ, channel 7, back when we were little more than kids singing for our supper anywhere someone would allow. We would drive the 85 miles to Roanoke to the tv studio and record a thirty-minute show that would be played later during the weekend. It was while doing this that we came up with the name of Statler. At the time, we were calling ourselves The Kingsmen. The WDBJ signal carried into North Carolina and we began getting our mail mixed up with the southern gospel group by the same name. That’s when we sat down and had a serious talk with ourselves and invented the Statler Brothers. If not for WDBJ and their direct signal going south, we may have remained local and stagnant, using someone else’s name.
All of the folks who were at the station back then are gone now, but I wanted to share a very inspirational interview that just touched my heart last night. I watched Bill O’Reilly interview the WDBJ station manager, Jeffery Marks. This man looked like a long day of suffering right in the face, but he spoke so firmly and honestly about his situation that I was moved to share it with you. Go find it on the internet and experience the faith and strength that this man exudes. I don’t know him but I’m going to pray for him. And for all those involved in any way. And for America.
Today is my grandson’s birthday and I feel almost guilty looking at him and his young, fresh life. I don’t want him to ever have the worries, concerns and burdens that I feel down deep today. But I know he will. And he, too, will handle it the same way we do. God bless him and all our children and all of those we love.
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