A somber speech. A lighted candle. A quiet prayer.
The courtyard surrounding the Rock filled with students for a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening in honor of the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting.
A white banner, painted with an orange “VT” and a purple “N” in opposing corners, was draped over a table for students to sign. The messages of hope and love will be sent on to Virginia Tech students as a gift from Northwestern. The Rock was painted black and emblazoned with the orange “VT” initials in mourning for the victims. The wall around the Rock read, “Today We Are Hokies.”
The University Chaplain, Tim Stevens, addressed students about the tragedy and their reactions.
“The first response of many of us, I suspect, has been to feel fear and anxiety,” Stevens said. “It is important to acknowledge and validate our feelings of apprehension and the ways in which we all find all of this disturbing.”
When Stevens finished, the podium was opened to students who felt compelled to speak before the gathering.
“It really questions how we come together, how fragile we are as people,” sophomore Sam Schiller said when he approached the microphone.
After hugging a graduate student who attended Virginia Tech, senior Coley Harvey spoke about the tremendous effect this event has had on students who would otherwise never think of the school.
“I didn’t know this was going to be quite as emotional for me as it is,” he said. “To see you all out here doing this tonight is awesome. I’m so blown away to see this entire plaza area filled with people.” Harvey also proposed that students don the Virginia Tech colors maroon and orange on Friday in a second act of remembrance.
All of the speakers emphasized the positive lesson of hope and friendship one can take away from this tragedy. When students finished speaking, the crowd took a moment of silence punctuated by Krystyna Kowalik performing “Amazing Grace” on violin.
Students filed out silently, many stopping to sign the banner on their way.
Multimedia production by Tom Nunlist. Photos by Tom Giratikanon and Rachel Koontz.