Virginia Tech - one year later
It will forever be one of those events that you remember where you were when you heard about it.
I remember I was back in Vancouver for my spring break from school and I was standing in my kitchen making a cup of tea, and turned the TV on and every channel had the tragedy of Virginia Tech playing on a constant loop. I watched the reports for the next two hours, shaking my head in disbelief at what was unfolding on the screen.
That was one year ago today.
All across the country and some parts of the world, people are remembering the tragedy of the 32 people that were gunned down in their school by a fellow student.
This was the worst mass shooting in modern US history, and the wounds of that day are still fresh.
It has been exactly one year since a mentally ill student killed 32 people and himself in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. And while this close-knit campus has worked hard to move on, the anniversary of the killings has left many struggling to cope.
A ceremony honoring the lives of those who perished during Seung-Hui Cho's rampage was planned for later in the morning in front of the memorial, where the candle lit at midnight will continue burning for 24 hours.
Other small, reflective gatherings were to take place during the day, with a candlelight vigil scheduled for the evening. One group of students planned to lie down in protest of Virginia's gun laws in the afternoon.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine ordered state flags flown at half-staff, and a moment of silence at noon followed by the tolling of bells.
Many people weren't sure how to observe the anniversary of a tragedy that was as unifying as it was shattering. It drew a university already known for its school spirit even closer as the depth of the loss registered with students and faculty.
Some campuses are on high alert for anyone wanting to remember this day in a different way.
Today, colleges and universities are wide-awake - and plugged in to the possibilities afforded by Web-capable, GPS-aware cell phones and other gizmos.
High-tech alert systems have been used so much over the past year that many young lives have surely been saved.
It was the way that the message was distrubuted across the campus about the shootings that have caused many schools to change the way they approach campus security.
The initial communications snags spurred sharp questions about the university's security system - and sparked a nationwide re-examination of campus security measures.
Before Virginia Tech, colleges and universities were reluctant to broadcast word of "any kind of negative activity," said Bryan Crum, spokesman for Omnilert, a Virginia-based company that provides alert systems for more than 500 campuses through its e2Campus service.
"Now it's a complete 180-degree change, where people are immediately sending out these kinds of alerts," Crum told me. "The schools are using it for everything from bomb threats to chemical spills, for on-campus shootings and off-campus shootings. They are not afraid to use it."
Here are some of the few events marking the one-year anniversary today.
The San Diego chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has organized a gathering from 2 to 4 p.m. at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 4011 Ohio St. in San Diego.
Demonstration Locations include US Supreme Court and Capitol, Virginia Tech and other college campuses, Presidential Debate in Philadelphia
On Wednesday, April 16, the one-year mark of the terrible tragedy that took 32 innocent lives at Virginia Tech, local citizens in more than 70 cities and towns across America will participate in events to remember that tragedy -- as well as all victims and survivors of gun violence -- and call on Congress to act to strengthen the Brady background check system by closing the gun show loophole. Remembrance events are being held this week, coincidentally, at 32 colleges and universities.
There will be an Memorial Mass in remembrance on Friday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Mary of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church, 5222 Sideburn Road, Fairfax Station, Va., where victim Mary Read was a member. All are welcome.
A memorial ceremony sponsored by the Fairfax County school system is planned for Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Robinson Secondary School Field House in Fairfax.
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is holding a series of prayer vigils and events throughout the week. For a full listing of events, click here.
Virginia Tech family members all over the country have declared Friday an "Orange and Maroon Effect" day. They invite everyone in the country to wear orange and maroon to support the school, community and family members of the victims.