April 16th Memorial Dedication Ceremony: Remarks by Zenobia Hikes

April 16 Memorial Dedication Ceremony

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Zenobia Hikes

Vice President of Student Affairs

On behalf of the entire university community, I thank each of you for being with us on this very solemn occasion. We particularly acknowledge the families of the deceased; the injured and other surviving students and their families; our faculty and staff; new students; those who have been involved with crisis management, recovery, and support; and all who have grieved.

On April 16, 2007, the peace that comes with learning was shattered on our campus, and the academy forever changed. As a result of the horrific tragedy that day, our hearts have been crushed, our spirits shaken, and our minds and bodies left weary. None of us anywhere in the world were mentally prepared for a tragedy of this magnitude in higher education. 

Yet, in the midst of our insurmountable grief, we have been embraced by our colleagues in the Virginia Tech community and by friends old and new--our brothers and sisters from around the world. In the process, the Virginia Tech family has become not only closer, but it has also become larger.

Anyone who reads the biographies of the fallen is struck by their exceptional talent and goodness. Regardless of age, each had accomplished much but had much, much more to give. We, as survivors, have a responsibility to continue their unrealized service.

Today, we join together as a community to honor, commemorate, and pay tribute to the talented minds of those innocent individuals who were taken from us far too soon. These cherished members of the Virginia Tech family--the young, gifted minds searching for knowledge and the dedicated, talented professors imparting that knowledge--will never be forgotten. 

With our native limestone as the base, we have etched their names into the foundation of this great university. The dedication of this memorial marks our determination to treasure the beautiful lives they lived.

As we move forward, their spirits will always be with us, permeating our commitment to education. Teaching and learning were central to their lives, and we will continue to invent the future through our university's steadfast dedication to teaching and learning, to research and discovery, to service and engagement, and to innovation. 

It is our sincere hope that in the years ahead, all who walk this path will remember their special gifts and seek to fulfill their unrealized service.