The William and Mary community joined together at noon today in a gathering outside of the Sir Christopher Wren Building to honor the memory of the Virginia Tech students and faculty members who were killed Monday.
A crowd of approximately 4,500 students, faculty and community members -- many wearing Virginia Tech’s colors of orange and maroon -- stood in silence at noon as the Wren bell tolled 33 times, once for every life lost in the shootings.
“So many tolls,” remarked College President Gene R. Nichol.
During his remarks, Nichol lamented the promising lives that were lost and praised the selflessness and heroism displayed by so many of the students and faculty members, who were “living the love that proves after all to be the most potent thing on earth.”
Michael K. Powell, Rector of the College, read a resolution that was adopted Friday by the Board of Visitors. The resolution recognizes the tragedy and salutes Virginia Tech’s president and his colleagues for their leadership, courage and compassion. The resolution also “binds the College as one with our sisters and brothers in days to come.”
“Our prayer is that sharing the burden lightens it for all. And so we joined hearts and hands, in the late hours of Monday, April 16, and scores of times since,” said Powell. “We sign banners. We sign Facebook. We trade, for a time, the green and gold for maroon and orange. We celebrate our kinship with the Hokies--unmoved by horror, unbowed by fear.”
Geoffrey Brown, William and Mary’s Hillel director, read the mourner’s kaddish, and David Hindman, the College’s United Methodist campus minister, gave a benediction.
The ceremony concluded with the bell again tolling 33 times. Afterward, some attendees embraced one another while others wrote messages of hope and support on banners that will be sent to Virginia Tech.
The memorial ceremony was one of many occurring across the Commonwealth as a part of the statewide day of mourning declared by Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine.
“We hope, in our best hours, to take up their example: honoring the character strengthened through trial, placing the common good before the fleeting individual need, asking the hard questions, and finding peace despite hard answers--or no answers at all. Looking out for and comforting one another,” the Board’s resolution read.
“We are all Hokies today.”