BLACKSBURG, Va. – 13 years ago Thursday, a mass shooting at Virginia Tech left 32 people dead. Fast forward to 2020, and even though social distancing guidelines made a remembrance event impossible, the community still came together to pay their respects.
It was a powerful and poignant day in Blacksburg on Thursday, as locals and the university community reflected on the event that changed the campus and the town forever.
The emotional weight of the day is heavier than the Hokie stones immortalizing the victims at the memorial site on campus.
Taylor Quint was a student the day of the shooting.
“It shook everyone," Quint said.
Now, she’s a mom living in Blacksburg and teaching her kids the meaning of the day and what it represents.
“It changed everyone’s lives. It really made us see how important life is,” Quint said.
Holly Lesko experienced the tragedy as a Blacksburg resident.
“I didn’t want to not be here to remember, to allow that space for that,” Quint said.
Lesko said the day reminds her that people can unite through life’s toughest times, a lesson she says is especially needed right now.
“I’m proud of this community and the way we responded, and I also have hope,” Lesko said.
As the bells echoed through campus, the people at the memorial site stood strong together, even while physically standing far apart.
The annual run in remembrance of the victims took a different form this year as well. Contestants ran on their own, many of them stopping at the memorial.