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In an Instant, Bright Futures Become Memories

By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Emily, Ryan, Mary. . . . Reema, Caitlin, Juan.

Those were their names. All of them gone. Just like that.

Daniel and Matthew. . . . Jarrett and Austin. . . . Henry and Brian.

Thirty-two victims, students mostly, many in engineering. Some were faculty members: Jamie Bishop and Liviu Librescu, G.V. Loganathan and Kevin Granata. They were focused and driven. They were energetic and bright. They were the promise of tomorrow.

So much potential.

Here, then gone.

A lawyer. An engineer. A veterinarian. An Air Force officer.

Those were some of the careers -- the lives -- they envisioned.

Their names are emerging now, the roster of the slain. Their stories are emerging, too. People who knew them, people who loved them, search for words.

How to sum up a life?

A "fun-loving 19-year-old." That was Mary Read. Caitlin Hammaren was "a lovely young lady." Both were students. Loganathan was "pure of heart." Another student, Emily Hilscher, was "a caring, thoughtful person."

Who they were in full, what the students might have become -- the totality of what was lost Monday when gunfire erupted at Virginia Tech -- we can never know.

All that's left are remembrances of what was taken.

"He had a great smile. . . ."

"He was one of the kindest, most compassionate people I have ever known. . . ."

"He was very full-spirited. . . ."

"He was a quiet leader. . . ."

What they liked: dancing and drama, photography and horses, snowboarding and travel, politics and literature.

And music.

Especially music.

"i am the pixie," Hilscher wrote on her Web site. "my friends are what keep me smiling. . . . i'm into snowboarding riding and music. as for music anything pretty much gets me going. . . . give me something i can bang my head to or dance like crazy and i'm all over it."

Remembrances.

"Here's a story about what a sweet, family-oriented girl she is," Karen Kuppinger said of Read, a niece. "The last time I saw her -- a year ago Thanksgiving here at my house -- she kept disappearing while she was here. I finally said, 'Mary, what are you up to? Are you reading a good book or something?'

"She was knitting a beautiful scarf -- a multicolored fluffy scarf like the girls wear -- for her grandmother for Christmas."

Here's another story:

Two men, a professor and a lab administrator, married to identical twin sisters, went to work Monday in the same building.

The administrator, Mike Diersing, heard gunshots and helped pull four students to safety in locked offices. On another floor, his brother-in-law, Granata, was among those shot.

Diersing called his wife, Lois, and told her he was fine. Then the two tried to reach Granata. His phone rang unanswered.

He was gone.

Just like that.

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