Virginia Tech honors fallen Hokies, 16 years later

32 Hokie Stones on campus represent each victim

BLACKSBURG, Va. – 32 Hokie Stones sit at the front of Virginia Tech’s campus — honoring the lives lost on April 16, 2007.

Now, 16 years later, Hokies say they will never forget. They came together Sunday morning for a memorial wreath laying.

Alumni Juan Carlos Gascon says he remembers first hearing about the shooting.

“My father picked me up in tears that day from school, took me to Dollar General and bought me this Virginia Tech hat,” Gascon said. “He told me that 32 dreams died that day, so wear this hat proudly and let those dreams live on.”

Peter Ronco’s son attends Virginia Tech, and Ronco says the impact feels greater on campus.

“The Virginia Tech shooting, I remember seeing and hearing about it but it was sadly one of many shootings,” Ronco said. “But when you actually come here and you’re part of the fabric of what it means to be part of Virginia Tech, it makes it very real.”

Kelsey Hurt and Olivia Tillet are students, and come to the memorial every year. They say they don’t want the victims to be remembered as just another statistic.

“It’s really important that we will never forget that they’re more than just a number in a shooting because that’s really easy to do these days because it happens so often,” Hurt said. “So, I think it’s important to remember the people that it actually happened to.”

Hurt says people need to listen to survivors advocating to end gun violence.

“In honor of the families, the victims, the people that survived, it’s important that we step towards actual change and give our best effort to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Hurt says she and others will never forget.

“A big part of it is things like this are still happening 16 years later, so it’s coming increasingly important to remember the victims because unfortunately, at this point there are so many,” she said.

About the Author:

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.