Honoring Virginia Tech’s fallen

It has been a long year for Jessica Forbes.

The senior transferred to GW from Virginia Tech in 2006. Only one week before a gunman tore through the rural Virginia campus, Forbes visited her friends in Blacksburg, Va. Shortly after she returned, she learned her friend had been killed.

“I’m used to not thinking about it, but it’s always there,” Forbes said. “It will never go away. (The shootings) changed how I think about everything.”

On Monday, she found herself in the same courtyard in which she stood one year ago. And again, candles illuminated the center of Kogan Plaza.

This time, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the worst shooting in American history, Student Association President Nicole Capp and her successor Vishal Aswani read the 32 victims’ names.

It has been one year since a gunman tore through the Virginia campus and a year since the GW community commemorated the killings with a similar vigil.

And on Wednesday night, Capp stood as she did last year: somber in tone, toting a candle to show solidarity with the Hokie community.

“Tonight, we are all Hokies,” Capp said to an audience of more than 40 students, including former University president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.

Brand Kroeger, the SA’s executive vice president, looked toward God to help ease the pain.

“We ask that you bring peace to those who walk our campus who were personally affected,” Kroeger said.

To many students, the anniversary served as a somber reminder of the massacre last April.

Last year’s shootings have taught Forbes to be more aware of her surroundings and her safety.

“I’ll be the first person to call (UPD) if the door to City Hall is unlocked or broken,” Forbes said.

Junior Luigia D’Onofrio, a Virginia native, said it was particularly difficult when she was unable to get in touch with the many of her friends in the hours after the shootings.

“Although I wasn’t directly affected by the shooting, I saw how it affected my good friends, and I remember how frantic and worried I was the day it happened because I couldn’t get in contact with them,” D’Onofrio said.

The campus memorials reminded some how much has changed in the past year.

“Everyone in Blacksburg has gone back to daily life,” D’Onofrio said. “But every once in a while you’ll see things that are meant to remind us of what happened and to remember those who were affected.”

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