Blacksburg, VA - It has been seven years since a gunman killed 32 students and faculty in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
He killed himself after the rampage.
Today on campus, students, staff and the community marked the anniversary with several events.
For the last time as university President Dr. Charles Steger paid respects to 32 faculty and students killed in obviously the darkest moment of his tenure.
Governor Terry McAuliffe was greeted by a victim's mother. He siad, "What do you say? The pain that a mother... As a father... Dorothy and I have five children. You just can't imagine losing a child. There is just nothing that can compare with it. I just said, 'my thoughts and prayers are with you,' There's not a lot you can do but... your heart goes out to them."
Nearby, sophomore Mari Buttarazzi marked the day with sorority sisters by handing out hundreds of memory ribbons.
"It's such a simple way to give back. For the half hour, we passed out more than 350 ribbons and it was amazing," said Buttarazzi.
She was in middle school in northern Virginia when the attack happened but still feels the link and the obligation to keep the memory alive , even if with just a small token.
"It's amazing how much people still care even though they never had a true connection. Being on campus and being a Hokie is connection enough and I think that is truly amazing," said Buttarazzi.
The community aspect of this tragedy may be a given but the real test of time, in regard to change, may come in safer campuses nationwide and with a better understanding of mental health within society.
"We have a long way to go. This is only the start and we need to re-double our efforts so that what happened here at Virginia Tech never occurs again in Virginia or, in all fairness, anywhere in the world," said McAuliffe.
Tuesday, August 19 2014 1:03 PM EDT2014-08-19 17:03:38 GMT
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