Last Saturday was the ninth anniversary of the Virginia Tech school shootings. That day thirty-two innocent people lost their lives when Seung-Hui Cho opened fire shortly before 10 AM that morning. To this day, the Virginia Tech shooting is the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in the United States, and one of the deadliest by a single shooter globally.
Governor McAuliffe declared April 16th a day of remembrance in the state of Virginia. Flags were ordered to be flown at half staff. The day of remembrance honors those who lost their lives, the first responders who saved lives, and those whose lives were forever changed. There was a list of scheduled events that occurred last Saturday.
Beginning at midnight April 16th, a ceremonial lighting of candles was performed. The names of all thirty-two victims were read aloud. At midnight on April 17th at the end of the day of events, the light was extinguished. Aside from being a vigil for those lost, the candle was meant to symbolize the light that came from the darkness that day.
With every bad thing that happens there must be some good. School security is stronger today than ever. The shooting also brought attention to major issues such as gun violence, the responsibility of college administration, how schools treat mental illness, and journalism ethics. Most important, that day people showed sides of them most never see. There were raw emotions demonstrated and acts of kindness that do not occur on a regular day. On that day no one looked at age, sex, or skin colors; they were all family grieving together.
At 9:43 AM Saturday morning, the time nine years previously the first shot rang out, the Capitol Square Bell Tower rang thirty-two times, one for each of those who died that day. The rings were followed by a moment of silence.
After the moment of silence was performed, it was time to run. There was a free run following the remembrance ceremony. 10,300 people ran 3.2 miles Saturday. The first 6,000 were given t-shirts with the phrase “Ut Prosim” across the chest which translates to “that I may serve.”
Governor McAuliffe suggested that anyone who would like to give back in another way could donate blood. There were several different locations throughout the commonwealth who had donating stations set up throughout the weekend.
Family and friends of those who were target that day nine years ago feared that their children would be forgotten. The families are truly grateful that Governor McAuliffe made Virginia Tech Remembrance Day and officially recognized holiday. Governor McAuliffe announced that he is dedicated to doing whatever he can in his power to assure events such as this do not happen again.