Monday marked the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy, where the lives of 32 students were lost. As thousands of Hokies gathered on the Drillfield for the candlelight vigil and commemoration, mixed feelings of sorrow and pride hung low in the air.
Looking through social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter, the huge amount of support is felt by everyone, whether from rival schools at UVA or alumni who graduated years ago.
Over 10,000 were in attendance at the vigil, even though the majority were not students at Virginia Tech 5 years ago. Brian Lusher was a senior in high school at the time and still felt strong emotions, “it’s different being a student at Virginia Tech who wasn’t here for the tragedy, but all one can feel is the huge sense of pride in the community and Hokie Nation that backs the school to this day, year in and year out”. Senator Bob McDonnell addressed the massive crowd during the ceremony and proclaimed April 16 as Virginia Tech Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In addition to the vigil, Hokies commemorated their Hokie angels with a ‘3.2 for 32’ Remembrance Run on Saturday. The event brought out more than 4,000 people and was kicked off by releasing 32 white balloons into the air.
Chris Fowler, host of ESPN’s College GameDay, gave his support by saying that Virginia Tech’s “sense of unity has never been more needed. It was touching that under the weight of so many other emotions, Tech students seemed saddened that the school they love forever could be branded as the site of an historic massacre. To those of us who have spent time there, Tech always will be recognized for much more than the hours of tragedy April 16, 2007”.