It is always moving to hear a city come to a standstill.
The state of Virginia observed a moment of silence at noon today. Seeing it on television never quite captures the emotion of the moment.
The NBC News work area is in the Holiday Inn that's just across the street from the Virginia Tech campus. Just before noon, I stepped outside the hotel and found the entire hotel staff gathered in the front parking lot. They proudly wore T-shirts with Virginia Tech colors. For them, this wasn't an "event." This was perhaps the first time they've all looked each other in the eyes and reflected on the horrific event that has changed their community.
At exactly noon, they all bowed their heads. Some said a silent prayer, others stared at nothing in particular, lost in the briefest moment of reflection. In the distance, church bells sounded and a nation's heart quivered... not sure whether to break a little more or to finally begin to heal.
Then it was over. Time for the staff of the Holiday Inn to go back to work. Time to once again be overwhelmed by everything but thoughts of the tragedy. Maybe that's a good thing.
Mourners gather in Blacksburg, Va., wearing their "Hokie" colors.Photo by Don Teague