April 16 Memorial Dedication Ceremony
Sunday, August 19, 2007
We gather here today in front of the memorial for April 16th to remember those lost and to honor those that survived as we formally dedicate this memorial. It is fitting that the memorial for April 16th should be here in front of Burruss. In the late night of April 16th, students from the organization Hokies United placed 32 stones in an arc around the Pass and Review Stand to serve as a temporary memorial.
The 32 stones on the Drillfield marked the first monument that grew into eventually covering most of the Drillfield with memorial items. It became the location where students, faculty, staff, alumni, community residents, and many other members of the Hokie Nation came to grieve the events of April 16th. The countless tributes to the 32 amazing people that our community lost covered the Drillfield for one of the most powerful exhibits of love and compassion that has ever been displayed.
And of all of the items that were placed on the Drillfield, the most constant memorial has been the original Hokie Stones. They have seen many events here on the Drillfield. They have seen hugs from friends, tears from those hurt, visits from out of town, and observers for almost 24 hours a day. But they have also seen other events. They've seen graduation, students walking to class, new students come to orientation, the Highty-Tighties practice, ultimate Frisbee played right over there, and Virginia Tech come back for the start of classes. The stones have seen Virginia Tech continue. The stones have seen Virginia Tech prevail. That is why these stones were the inspiration behind the design for the memorial before us today.
As we dedicate this memorial, we will present each of the families with the original Hokie Stone that was placed here for their loved one. I can think of no more fitting symbol for our 32 fallen Hokies than Hokie Stone, the icon that is so emblematic of our university. Over the past four months, we all have learned about the lives of each and every victim. We have recognized how truly amazing each of these 32 individuals was. And while I am proud that they are represented by these Hokie Stones, I am more proud and even humbled that these Hokie Stones and Virginia Tech are represented by them.
So now, as we dedicate this memorial, we place the new 32 Hokie Stones here permanently at this site commemorating not only the victims, but also our enduring Hokie spirit, our courage to move forward, and our determination to never to forget.
And now the Marching Virginians will play our Alma Mater with singer, soloist Stephen Shellbourne. Thank you.