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Should Cole Hall Be Destroyed or Left As a Monument?

By Mike Fak

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[February 28, 2008]  Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has announced his intentions to have Cole Hall on the Northern Illinois University campus demolished and replaced with a new structure aptly named Memorial Hall. Cole Hall was the scene this past Valentine's Day when a lone gunman fired into a crowd of students, killing five and wounding 16 before taking his own life. The governor has determined that the building, still a viable and certainly not outdated structure, should no longer stand, and he intends to use taxpayer dollars to build a new structure in its place.

I wish I knew if this was appropriate or not, but I don't.

I can't fathom the anguish faced by the parents and families of the students who were killed that terrible day. My heart goes out to them as I find myself torn between sorrow for them and thankfulness that the incident didn't occur at my son's college at a class my son attended.

I don't know if I would harbor any ill will toward a building if in fact it was where my son was killed.

For some, roadside memorials are important landmarks for a specific location where a loved one was killed in a traffic accident. In effect, family members want to be able to visit the site where tragedy took someone special away from them. Should not Cole Hall then be left as a monument to the students killed at Northern?

I can also see where others might want anything to do with that terrible day obliterated and something new created, as special as the promise of the lives of those students killed, to remember them.

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Although I don't have the answer to this question, I also believe the governor shouldn't have the right to decide either.

I think the decision should be left up to the families of the slain students. Whatever they want should be fine with all of us, including Gov. Blagojevich. This shouldn't have been identified as another political opportunity, and the governor's unilateral decision smacks of this.

Rather than in a building, old or new, I hope we will keep the memories of those slain students in our hearts and in our prayers. Buildings come and go. Young lives taken far too soon are lost to all of us forever.


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