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Blacksburg community and nation unite for Virginia Tech "Day of Remembrance"

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BLACKSBURG (WSLS10) - It's been nine years since a tragic shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech. Saturday, members of the Blacksburg community and people from across the nation came together for a Day of Remembrance.

Bells rang out 32 times at the "Virginia Capitol Square" bell tower in Richmond in honor of the 32 students and faculty members shot and killed on campus nine years ago. Governor McAuliffe ordered all state flags be lowered to half-staff through sunset Saturday to honor the victims and their families.

The father of Collin Goddard, a former Virginia Tech student who was shot four times but survived that day, attended the ceremonial events. Andrew Goddard said he hopes lawmakers will pass stricter gun control laws.

"The reward is thinking that if we could save some other family from having to go through what we went through or still what other families had to go through then, it's worth every second," said Goddard.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 runners laced up to run 3.2 miles through Virginia Tech's campus in Blacksburg for the 32 lives taken on April 16th, 2007.

"I ran it," said Virginia Tech alumni, Dee Strauss. "I walked up the last hill just a little bit."

Some even ran carrying additional weight of 32 pounds. And many who didn't run, like freshman Nicole Kurka, volunteered.

"Hokie nation is really strong," said Kurka. "I got up this morning and decided to help set up the balloons for the arches at the start line."

A parade of events began at midnight with the lighting of the ceremonial candle at the April 16th memorial site. Guarded by members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, the flame burns to represent the commitment to never forget.

"It hit home because; I think one of the people that passed was from Pittsburgh which is where I'm from," said Kurka. "Although, this day was such a tragedy nine years ago, it actually brought our community together."

"I think that people from all over come just to remember the tragedy that occurred here," said Strauss. "We met some folks from North Carolina for this and will be driving back afterwards."

After the run, a community picnic was held on the Drillfield.

The lunch fed thousands thanks to generous donations from Dominos, Kroger and the school's Student Government Association.