Va. Tech victims remembered by candlelight


Va. Tech victims remembered by candlelight


<b>Students and community members gather at MemChu to reflect, pray</b>

April 19, 2007
By Rahul Kanakia

Several hundred Stanford community members gathered yesterday evening at a Memorial Church service for the 32 Virginia Tech students and faculty who were slain Monday by a gunman. Deans of Religious Life Rev. Scotty McLennan and Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann presided over the service.

"We come together as religious and non-religious people. As faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, we are all part of one community here at Stanford University," McLennan said. "Many of us have been overcome with feelings of shock, sorrow, fear, incomprehension, anger and hopelessness since Monday, all mixed up together. We come here to offer all of that up in prayer and contemplation and thoughtful reflection."

As Karlin-Neumann read the names of the dead, McLennan rang a bell. The tone hung in the air after each name, fading almost to silence before Karlin-Neumann read the next name. Some attendees looked upwards, some stared at the floor, while others fixed their eyes on the front of the church.

Alyssa Battistoni &#39;08 said she lost a good friend from high school, Daniel O&#39;Neil, who was an environmental engineering graduate student at the Blacksburg, Va. university.

"I don&#39;t know," she said. "I wasn&#39;t really there, to tell you the truth. I was just thinking about how much it all sucks. He just got married, my friend Dan."

After the service, Takeo Rivera &#39;08 drew parallels between the victims&#39; lives at Virginia Tech and student life at Stanford.

"Their lives were cut tragically short," he said. "And that all sounds cliche and such. But the fact that it happened on a college campus makes it all so real. For instance, one of the victims was an RA, and I&#39;m an RA. It was one of those things where you kind of reflect on your own mortality."

Calley Means &#39;08, a Washington, D.C. resident who was at the service because many of his friends at Virginia Tech lost friends in the attack, said he was surprised that the events resonated so strongly 3,000 miles away.

"There were so many people wearing Virginia Tech sweatshirts and crying," he said. "People who had gone to lecture in Norris Hall. People who had taken classes with those professors. It just shows the ripple effects of those 32 people. This event really showed me the magnitude of what had happened."

McLennan told The Daily that the Office of Religious Life has been flooded with phone calls and emails requesting an organized gathering.

"The scope of [the massacre] is unprecedented," he said. "This kind of thing usually does not happen in a college and university. And there is identification with the other students, faculty and staff and their friends. This touches pretty close to home; it could have been us."

After Karlin-Neumann read a selection of prayers, attendees were given the opportunity to light candles in remembrance of the victims. Half of the mourners lined up and down the center of the church as the other half looked on. For more than 15 minutes the silence of the procession was broken only by a few people who delivered short messages after lighting their candles.

One man, a graduate of both Virginia Tech and Stanford, read a statement taken from Virginia Tech Prof. Nikki Giovanni&#39;s speech at Tuesday&#39;s memorial service in Blacksburg.

"We are sad today and we will be sad for quite awhile," he quoted from the speech. "We are not moving on. We are embracing our mourning. We are Virginia Tech. We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly. We are brave enough to bend to cry, and sad enough to know that we must laugh again."


Original Source: <a href=""> Stanford Daily - April 19, 2007 </a>


Rahul Kanakia




Sara Hood


Permissions granted by
James Hohmann
The Stanford Daily




Rahul Kanakia, “Va. Tech victims remembered by candlelight,” The April 16 Archive, accessed April 16, 2024,