As I begin my fourth semester at Franklin and Marshall College, four hours away from our beloved Indiana County, I have started to reflect upon the past few months. In the months and days preceding the New Year, my alma mater town of Saltsburg suffered some incredible tragedies.
The news of the sudden passing of a former classmate at the beginning of December reached me while I began studying for my final exams.
As I relied on local news sources and my parents to relay the news to me, I witnessed something amazing on social media: I saw a community come together, realizing and even rediscovering how interconnected every person in a small town is. Everyone seemed to have some story or distant connection to the young man who died.
Again, just the day before New Year’s, another tragic event occurred. I will not go into detail, but I will say this event was incredibly shocking and garnered a lot of media attention. My dad told me what had occurred as I returned from work around midnight on the day of the tragedy. To say I was shocked was an understatement. Again, social media became a buzzing hive of shared media links, words of condolence to the victim’s family and reassurances of support for the arrested man’s family.
I write this, not to reopen fresh wounds or prolong the media attention of these events, but to try to make everyone realize how connected every single person in small towns like ours is. The student population of my college is 2.5 times greater than the population of Saltsburg. At my school news travels like a vicious wildfire, no matter if it is good or bad news.
Even with distance separating me from my hometown, I still feel the effects events like this have on a town’s population. Small towns and communities are an intricate web of families and friendships. When something like this happens, new connections are discovered.
We are all connected in ways we never thought possible. It is incredibly sad that these connections are not recognized until horrifying events like these occur.
Franklin and Marshall College, Class of 2016