Late in the evening of April 16 last year, three students lugged 32 stones onto the Virginia Tech Drillfield in honor of those killed earlier in the day. Later arranged into a now-iconic semicircle, the memorial became a nexus for the community to gather, reflect, and grieve. Near this monument, the university held a commemorative ceremony this morning—drawing 15,000 mourners who sat and listened to Gov. Tim Kaine and the school president in near silence. Said President George Steger:
"We've searched for answers.We've searched for meaning in what is incomprehensible. We've searched for rest in our sleepless hours where the silence is shattered by the barrage of our own thoughts. And we've searched our souls for purpose and direction and peace to calm the turmoil of our hearts and minds.
"We have not found all that we've sought, but at every turn we've found each other."
The day was not without controversy, however. A "lie-in" event, which some accused of being a gun control demonstration, had its time and place shuffled because of administrative concerns. Its organizer has insisted the event was held in honor of a friend, and school officials have said the controversy has been mostly overblown. "Once you hear all the details, you realize that this is something that there is no story. It was a mountain out of a molehill."
Mostly though, students concentrated on remembrance—recalling that day, their classmates, and their friends.
The Collegiate Times has compiled stories from seemingly every point of view: the sister, the roommate, the close call, the fellow cadet, the parents, the hero, and the survivor. Writes one student: "I'm still confused at times, overwhelmed and worried about how my past will define my future.... What I've come to hope is that with each passing day we can all find a little more peace than the days before.