* SGA PRESIDENT DAVID KIRKPATRICK :
Good evening. My name is David Kirkpatrick. Im the student body president at West Virginia University, and on behalf of WVU , the student body and Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, I would like to welcome you to these special grounds of Woodburn Circle to honor the victims of Mondays shootings at Virginia Tech.
The shootings that claimed the lives of 33 people have left students searching for ways to understand, and come to terms with, the tragedy. Out of the pain and darkness of this weeks horrific events, we hope that tonights vigilthrough words, music and reflectionwill help light the way for healing.
At this time, I would like to call on members of the Student Government Association to begin lighting candles and ask that everyone pass the flame to all those who are gathered here. The light of these candles symbolize the enduring memories of those who have passed away; they will not be forgotten
In respectful salute, we will now have a moment of silence to remember the lives lost at Virginia Tech, and then the U.S.S. Armored Cruiser West Virginia bell will be rung three times after the Woodburn Hall clock strikes the nine oclock hour.
*(PAUSE FOR MOMENT OF SILENCE , APO RINGS BELL THREE TIMES )
Shocking, frightening, unbelievable, horrifying, tragic and confusingThese are some of the words that describe the deadly attacks Monday morning in Blacksburg.
There were feelings of loss, loneliness, fear and a lack of hope
WVU students, faculty, staff, family and friends: As flags fly at half-staff tonight, it is with heavy hearts that we have come together to honor those killed and injured at Virginia Tech.
Before this weeks tragedy, the wordsfriendly rivalrycame to mind when I thought of Virginia Tech, but now is a time to put that rivalry aside and stand together as one.
To those at Virginia Tech, we offer you our deepest condolences.
At times like these, it is important not only to grieve, but to celebrate the lives of those lost. Just like us, the students and faculty who died came from all over the world with different hopes and dreams.
Some of the ways theyre being remembered are:a wonderful family man,a leader among students,outgoing, friendly and helpfulanda friend to everyone he met.
One student was attending Virginia Tech on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. Another was a member of the schools dance ensemble.
Daniel Perez Cueva was 21a student from Peru studying international relationsand
Rachael Hill was only18. She was a freshman from Richmond.
Ross Alameddine was 20 years old and from Massachusetts. He was a sophomore English major. Buddies wrote in Facebook: He wasan intelligent, funny, easygoing guy.
And then there was Ryan Clark, 22, from Georgia. Friends called him”Stack.”He was an RA on the fourth floor of Ambler Johnson Hall, the dorm where the shooting began. He was a member of the marching band and just weeks away from graduation.
Jarrett Lane was also 22. He was from Narrows, Virginiaa senior majoring in civil engineering who was valedictorian of his high school class.
* SGA VICE PRESIDENT JASON PARSONS :
My name is Jason Parsons, and Im the Student Government Vice President at WVU .
Among the faculty who died were Jamie Bishop, 35His passion was teaching German, and his wife also teaches in Virginia Techs German program.
G.V. Loganathan, 51, was born in India. He taught in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He left behind a wife and two daughters.
Kevin Granata, 45, was an engineering science and mechanics professor who was married and had three children. He was considered one of the top biomechanics researchers in the country, working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy.
And Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mechanics lecturer. He had survived the Holocaust. Students say he blocked the door of his classroom with his body to protect those inside.
This tragedy has affected so many people. Tonight, our heart-felt thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victimsfamilies and friends
Joining us now is Seyran (SAY-ran) Celik, a WVU alumna and graduate student at Virginia Tech, who would like to share a few words. She was near the engineering building where the shootings took place.
* SEYRAN CELIK , WVU ALUM , CURRENT VT GRAD STUDENT :
Thank you for coming out tonight.
My name is Seyran Celik. I am a Morgantown resident, WVU alum and currently a graduate student in civil engineering at Virginia Tech.
Like many of my colleagues, I have taken this opportunity to return home to be with my family and friendsto find comfort and love in my community which has been compassionate and thoughtful enough to organize this event.
The nightmare for me began around 9:45. Like many of the students that morning, our only offense was to attend class. My building, Patton Hall, is located directly in front of Norris Hall, and although we were completely oblivious to the situation that immediately surrounded us, an injured student who had jumped out of the second-story building quickly informed us of what was unfolding right beneath our noses.
In a matter of seconds, snipers were on our roofs and police with rifles and canine units infiltrated our hallways and lawns. During the hours my building was on lockdown, our most immediate concern was reaching our friends and family to let them know that we were okay.
Unfortunately at that time, many of us did not have the luxury of doing that. I lost two friends Monday night. Many more of my friends had the heartache of losing much more.
During the last couple of days, the campus has received unimaginable amounts of support and assistance. The flood of text messages, Facebook posts and e-mails from my friends and family from Morgantown all bore one recurring sentence: WVU stands with VT.
I speak for everyone when I say that your care means everything to those affected, and I am honored that West Virginia University has become an extension to the Virginia Tech family. Thank you all again.
* WVU PRESIDENT DAVID C . HARDESTY, JR.:
Before I begin, I would like to thank the student leaders who organized this event to express our solidarity with the people of Virginia Tech in their time of sorrow. Some of us have friends or family members at Virginia Tech, while others have no connection to that university, but we all share in the shock and sorrow our entire nation is experiencing.
This vigil gives us the chance to come together as a community, respond with compassion to people who are hurting, and begin to answer the questions we may have been asking ourselves since the shooting occurred.
The first question is: What has happened? As students, you have read about violence that occurs in war�€and violence that occurs on a mass scale, as in terrorist attacks. This event is different. One mentally unstable individual was responsible, a fact that brings home how much harm one such person can inflict on others. What we saw this week was the worst mass shooting in our nations history. Fortunately, events of this magnitude happen rarely.
The second question you might ask is: Why did this happen? We may never know what motivated the perpetrator, and any explanation that we discover is sure to seem inadequate. The students and faculty members killed were innocent people going about their daily routines. They certainly didnt deserve their fate.
Great thinkers from Augustine to Aquinas to Dostoevsky have struggled to explain why bad things happen to good people. Despite the lack of an adequate explanation, we cannot give up hope. Furthermore, a lack of understanding cannot stop us from finding, through our deepest sorrow, the courage, strength, and compassion to support those in need of a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold.
When thinking about what has happened, you may also ask yourself: How should I feel? Psychologists emphasize that each person reacts to traumatic events differently. Accept your own feelings and be tolerant of othersreactions. Take care of yourself�€mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually�€so that you are able to reach out to others. If you need extra help in dealing with this tragedy, please do not hesitate to ask for help. Counseling is available at the Carruth Center for Counseling and Psychological Services.
Events like these give rise to sorrow and fear. We recognize that Virginia Tech is similar to WVU in size, setting, and some of its mission elements. This event reminds us that, in a free and open society, violence can erupt in even the most peaceful setting. I hope, however, that you will not fear for your safety.
When news of this tragedy reached our campus, WVU officials immediately began discussing ways to apply its lessons to refine our campuscrisis response and communication plans. This work will continue in the days, weeks, and months ahead, as we learn more about how this event unfolded. Providing a safe learning and living environment for students, faculty, and staff is WVU s highest priority.
A final question you might ask yourself is: How should I act? I know that the Virginia Tech family will come together to support each other at this terrible time, and we are more than ready to do anything we can to help them.
I have extended our Universitys sympathy to their president, who is a personal friend, and our student leaders are collecting messages of sympathy on-line from WVU students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends.
I hope that this event will remind you to be observant about your environment and the people around you. Report unusual activity to campus security, and if you see a person in trouble, let someone in authority know so they can try to get that person help.
Above all, remember that no personal relationship or grade or loss of status or grief is worth the loss of life.
Each one of you is precious�€to your family and friends, to this University, and to our nations and worlds future.
As we go forward together, arm in arm with the Virginia Tech family, please remember: Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.
*(WVU STUDENTS KASEY HOTT & JUSTIN JOHNSON PERFORM THERE YOU LL BE)
* SGA PRESIDENT DAVID KIRKPATRICK :*
A special thank you to Kasey Hott, a WVU student majoring in journalism, and Justin Johnson, a WVU history major,two of our ownfor singing that beautiful melody.
In closing, Id like to thank everyone for coming out tonightwith special thanks to President Hardesty and his administrationand my SGA teamfor your involvement and support.
A lot of people have been asking about what they can do to reach out to Virginia Tech
Throughout the week, the Student Government Association is holding various activities as a show of unity with our friends in Blacksburg.
If youd like to send a message of sympathy, you can do so through a special WVU Web site that is listed in the programs. SGA will be compiling messages into a book that will be given to families of the victims, those wounded, and the Virginia Tech faculty and student administrations.
SGA also has a banner available in the Mountainlair for people to sign, and we are asking everyone to wear orange and maroon ribbons to show their support for the school, community and family members of the victims.
Thank you again for your support, and have a good night.
More photos available athttp://vigil.galleries.wvu.edu/