BLACKSBURG, Va. – It’s been 14 years since 32 lives were taken on the campus of Virginia Tech. The pandemic did throw a wrench in tradition, but the university is still committed to never forgetting.
The Ceremonial Candle at the April 16 memorial was lit at midnight and will continue to burn for 24 hours. Due to the pandemic and to avoid large gatherings, the ceremony at midnight and 11:59 p.m. were canceled this year.
The university still placed flowers and wreaths on all 32 memorial stones like they do every year.
The Remembrance Run is still happening, but for the second year, the run is virtual and goes to Sunday, April 18. The 3.2-mile run symbolizes the 32 students and faculty members.
Mark Owczarski, university spokesman, said April 16 is an important part of Virginia Tech, who they are and their history. He said they made a steadfast commitment and a pandemic doesn’t change that.
“It (Day of Remembrance) is a day where first and foremost we remember the 32 lives that were taken from us on that day 14 years ago but it’s also a day to remember the importance and the value of community and how community is essential in terms of the resiliency, the recovery and the ability for a community to come together and support one another in its very darkest moments,” said Owczarski.
While everyone can not be together in-person, they can be virtually with the run and the library’s digital gallery, We Are Better Than We Think: Selections from the April 16, 2007 Condolence Archives.
Owczarski said some people can choose to remember in private as well.