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They shed tears, gave hugs and silently held candles. Some donned Virginia Tech sweatshirts and paraphernalia, while others expressed their feelings in words. Nonetheless, everyone came together to support those affected by the VT tragedy.
Around 200 students and Boulder community members gathered on Wednesday evening at the Dalton Trumbo Fountain Court to honor the victims of the shooting and talk with others about how they felt.
The vigil was organized by the Religious Campus Organizations group and started with a small speech by two pastors before the microphone was handed over to three student representatives, each of a different religion. Prayers were recited in Hebrew, Christian and Arabic. The Christian representative also gave a speech.
Next, the names of 31 of the 33 victims were read. Two victims have yet to be identified. Finally, attendees broke up into four groups, occupying the four corners of the fountain court. The groups were split up by religion, with one corner for those who wished not to be affiliated with any religion. In these groups, people shared their own reactions, feelings and stories.
Katie Perkins, a junior English major, came to the vigil as a way to reach out to those in need during a difficult time.
“This thing doesn’t affect just that school,” Perkins said. “It affects every campus. It’s such a sad thing and a punch in the stomach, you can’t breathe. I was just in shock. You can’t help but ask ‘why would someone do something like this?’”
Chris Sample, a senior psychology major, went to school in Virginia and had six friends that attended VT. He attended the vigil to pay his respects to all of the students who attend VT.
“I knew a bunch of kids that went there,” Sample said. “It was weird looking them up on Wikipedia to see if they were dead. Luckily all of them were safe but I was scared that someone I know had died. It was shocking. I felt the same thing everyone else felt: I was afraid something like this could happen anywhere.”
Many others had messages to convey when they spoke within the smaller groups.
“It is important that everyone is coming together,” one woman said.
“It reminds you how to treat people. I really feel for other students,” a male student said.
One woman felt it was necessary that people continually reach out and help others.
“It’s as important to send love as it is to feel pain. The people that are the angriest are the hardest to reach out to,” she said.
Another woman looked to the words of John Lennon for inspiration.
“We pray that there is nothing to kill or die for,” she said. “We need to keep hope alive. A lot of the time we have to open up and talk about things. We need to communicate.”
As people left the vigil, they had the opportunity to sign a large banner provided by the Big XII Council On Black Student Government. The chairman of the group, who attends the University of Kansas, had the idea that each council provide a banner for students and mourners to sign. The banner will be sent to VT.
“This is a time for us to unite as college students and support each other,” said La’Neice Littleton, a junior ethnic studies major and member of the Big XII Council On Black Student Government.
One particular woman donning a VT sweatshirt and cap spoke emotionally to her group about her own times at VT. She graduated from the school in 1989 and had taken a German class in Norris Hall.
“This is not how Virginia Tech should be remembered,” she wept.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Ashley Herzberger at email@example.com.