As the news cycle constantly churns on, often from one tragedy to another, it’s understandable that many people can forget, or at least move on from, the second-to-most-recent tragedy. It’s a depressing thought, but mass shootings and gun violence are too commonplace for any one instance to stand out in collective memory for very long. The sphere of a tragedy’s influence shrinks over time, from the national to the community, and eventually just to the families, who live the aftermath for a long, long time. Alison Parker’s father knows it, and now two universities — Virginia Tech and South Carolina — are fighting to keep people’s minds from wandering away from what needs to be remembered.
The Virginia Tech Hokies will wear a patch on their helmets honoring Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were shot to death on live television last week, for their season opener against Ohio State. The patch will bear a number 7, for WDBJ, the news station at which Parker and Ward worked. It will also bear teal and maroon ribbons — teal was Parker’s favorite color and Ward was a 2011 alumni of Virginia Tech, whose Blacksburg campus was not far from where the shooting took place.
The South Carolina Gamecocks will also wear a patch on their helmets honoring the victims of the Emmanuel AME Episcopal church shooting in June in Charleston, South Carolina. That patch will reportedly be on the helmets all season. That patch will depict nine doves, one for every victim slain by Dylann Roof.
It may be a (literal) token gesture, but neither school had to do it, and if it helps to keep college football fans even one percent more mindful of the menace of gun violence and the horror it can wreak, it will have done some good.