Heading back from Blacksburg

By Mark Blanchard, Producer, Global National Toronto Bureau

(Near Birch River on U.S. Hwy I-79, West Virginia) — Time to head home after a difficult and challenging story to cover.

Reporter Mike Drolet, cameraman/editor Peter Dawson and I pulled out of Blacksburg, Virginia this morning, but not after buying some Virigina Tech hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts.

Many of the estimated 1000 journalists, photographers and television technican crews who descended on Blacksburg from around the world have done likewise.

You see, it’s hard not to feel the “Hokie Nation” spirit with so many orange and maroon colours seen flying, hanging and walking about the university town.

While there is a growing anti-media blacklash from Virginia Tech students over the past few days, it’s safe to say even hardened news veterans have shuddered after learning the details of Monday’s massacre.

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Sure, you probably didn’t see the Hokie colours on camera during the live shots from Blacksburg, but as each day of the coverage wore on, we saw more and more of them at the satellite truck city that formed on the university campus.

When we left Blacksburg this morning, the “orange and maroon effect,” as it’s being called, had taken over town. Residents were being urged to show their support by wearing the university’s colours — and that they did.

Clearly, the Hokie spirit, which Mike’s story focused on last night’s Global National, is so infectious even out of towners like us can’t help to catch it.

Here’s hoping it will help the community recover from, but not forget the tragedy now hundreds of miles behind us.