BLACKSBURG, Va. — With a memorial ceremony, a candlelight vigil and many hugs and tears, Virginia Tech took a day off from classes yesterday to remember the 32 students and teachers slain last year as musicians, artists, athletes, classroom cut-ups and compassionate volunteers.
The emotional events marking the first anniversary of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history punctuated a brilliant spring day, so different from April 16, 2007, when a leaden sky spit snow.
At the day's first memorial event, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine lamented the "lost promise" of the victims' shortened lives. About 15,000 people, most of them Tech students wearing orange and maroon T-shirts, streamed across the Drillfield to gather at the small memorial of gray stones to honor the dead. There, in a simple and solemn ceremony, the names of the dead were spoken; then their virtues and passions — and personality quirks — were briefly extolled.