Virginia Tech Magazine
Memorial Issue | May 2007

Today, we are all Hokies
Since the events of April 16, the Virginia Tech community has been bolstered by an almost overwhelming outpouring of sympathy and encouragement from individuals and institutions around the world. This page includes just a few of the literally thousands of images and words of condolence and support received by the university.

From MIT to the University of Saskatchewan, hundreds of colleges and universities worldwide have paid tribute to Virginia Tech. The complete list of the institutions can be viewed at, which includes links to the institutions' websites.

In addition to the higher education community, people, companies, and agencies across the globe have responded to our tragedy. To view all of the photographs, go to

To view the video tribute produced by Virginia Tech's Visual & Broadcast Communications unit, go to

Baylor University's Pat Neff Hall tower
Baylor University's Pat Neff Hall tower, usually illuminated only in the school's traditional green, was lit with Virginia Tech's school colors on April 23 and 24 to mark the return of Tech students to campus. Baylor specifically purchased lighting gels in Hokie maroon and orange for the tribute.

In Huntington, W. Va., we understand the chill that won't go away. Thirty-six years ago, nearly all the members of the Marshall University football team and several citizens, 75 people in all, died on a rain-soaked Saturday night when their plane crashed while returning from a game at East Carolina University. Their story is told in a recent motion picture, "We Are Marshall."

Today, the tragedy in Blacksburg has created a connection between Marshall University and Virginia Tech, one that we wish had never happened. The states of Virginia and West Virginia have always been separate but close. Blacksburg and Huntington. Virginia Tech and Marshall University. Our communities and universities are now linked by the two worst campus tragedies in U.S. history.

As the healing process goes, we are a little farther ahead of our brothers and sisters in Blacksburg with a head start of more than three decades. To those in Blacksburg who grieve and to those who sent your sons and daughters to Blacksburg, know that we stand beside you in your April mourning.

Today, at Marshall University, "We Are Virginia Tech."

W. Joseph Wyatt
Professor of psychology
Marshall University

JMU banner
Three floors of Squires Student Center were covered with banners, flags, and posters from other universities and organizations.

Being a Hokie is not a word, it's a lifestyle. It's who we are and what the university experience taught us; it's the comfort of having a family with us when we spread our wings. To the parents and friends of those who were lost, know that your son, daughter, father, mother, or friend was a member of our family and that we are all better because of them. They have touched the lives of others in a way that will inspire others who will carry on their memory. Hokies everywhere are feeling your pain and we are here for you.

Sarah Osborn Welty '90
Marching Virginians

Chatham Hall

French students at Chatham Hall, an all-girls boarding school in Chatham, Va., honored the memory of Virginia Tech French instructor Jocelyne Couture-Nowak.

Penn State Blue-White game
They are clashing colors, maroon and orange. As they say, it's a combination only a Hokie could love. But on [April 17], maroon and orange came together in a moving display of sympathy, support, and pride. Watching Virginia Tech students in school colors grieve together at the convocation in Cassell Coliseum got me choked up. When they concluded the afternoon by yelling "Let's go, Hokies!" I lost it. It was such a familiar expression of unity, but this time, it was summoned for an infinitely more profound occasion.

You don't arrive at Virginia Tech accidentally. You have to work to get there, journeying into the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's lovely, picturesque, and seems very far away from the dangers of the outside world. There is a collective strength of spirit there that feels quite different from other campuses we visit. It's a big school . . . but it feels like a tight community. That spirit seems to endure long after students leave Blacksburg--once a Hokie, always a Hokie.

To the community of Virginia Tech and to the families of the victims, our thoughts will remain with you during the long, difficult healing process. Your sense of unity has never been more needed. It was touching that under the weight of so many other emotions, Tech students seemed saddened that the school they love could forever be branded as the site of an historic massacre.

To those of us who have spent time there, Tech will always be recognized for much more than the hours of tragedy on April 16, 2007. We look forward to our next chance to experience Virginia Tech pride firsthand.

ESPN "College GameDay" host Chris Fowler, originally published on on April 19, 2007, under the title "Campus tragedy will only bring tight community closer." Excerpted with permission.

It would have been easy to mistake the annual Penn State Blue-White spring football scrimmage for a Virginia Tech game. The majority of the approximately 71,000 fans in attendance donned orange and maroon to show their support of Tech.
Penn State Blue-White game
When the phone rang on the morning of April 16, I was writing an e-mail to a friend who is working in Afghanistan. There had been a suicide bombing a few miles from where he is stationed and he had written to say that he was okay. I was planning to say that perhaps he ought to come home earlier than September. Like, tomorrow.

I didn't know, as I wrote, that a tragedy was happening 20 miles away. I learned of it in a phone call from my cousin in Las Vegas. "Headline News" was on in his hotel. In my little office on the mountainside, the TV was off.

"I just heard about the shooting at Virginia Tech," he said. "Twenty-two people dead (then). Do you know anybody there?"

Well, yeah. Dozens of people. It's just down the road.

My husband and I have degrees from Tech, and I once worked in the building in front of Norris. My children are students at Roanoke College with half their high school classmates enrolled at Tech.

I know professors and staff members, but my closest connection nowadays is the young NASCAR driver who helped with my new novel. He is in graduate school at Virginia Tech and my first thought that morning was whether he was safe.

"He's fine," I thought. "What are the odds?"

I called him anyway. Got his voice mail. "I know you're fine," I said, feeling stupid. "Please let me know for sure, though."

And he was fine. But it was devastating. So close to home. The waiting to see if any of the victims were friends of my family or of our friends. How many degrees of separation? I wrote back to my friend in Afghanistan, "You might as well stay put. It isn't safe anywhere anymore."

Sharyn McCrumb M.A. '85
author of several New York Times best-selling novels.

Texas A&M
A black flag was hung in the atrium of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University.

Auburn University banner

"Today, we are all Hokies." That has been the constant message I have received from around the nation and the world concerning the events of April 16. The outpouring of love for our beloved university has been gratifying and stunning.

Today, there is pain everywhere in our community, and our hearts are troubled. Yet I am certain that our university will persevere. The spirit of Virginia Tech cannot allow otherwise. We who once walked its halls and studied in its classrooms were trained to represent all that is good and right in the world and we will prevail. Evil can never succeed, not while there are men and women like the people of Virginia Tech who, every day, reach for success and endeavor to improve the human condition. More than ever, I am proud to be part of the community of Virginia Tech.

Homer Hickham ’64, author of several best-selling novels, including Rocket Boys, which was made into the film “October Sky.”

VT letter From second-grader Alena Lewis of Titusville, Fla.

After she asked, "Mommy, why is the flag flying lower today?" and was told that something had happened at Virginia Tech, Alena wrote this letter.

The Student Union of Serbia expresses its deepest sympathy for the families of students murdered at Virginia Tech, as well as to all citizens of the United States of America. In these hard times for Blacksburg, Va., and for all of the United States, the students of Serbia feel compassion for our American colleagues' sorrow and encourage them to find the way to continue normal life, as hard as that seems now.

The Student Union of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia, received April 17, 2007.

Niagara Falls

Choose one

While the images and emotions of April 16 are seared into our collective consciousness, our own lives, with all of the demands of the modern world, will cause the memories to fade, likely more quickly than we might think. Over time, we will struggle with remembering so many names and, unfortunately, the only name we will probably always remember will be the one that we should all do our best to forget.

For this reason, I ask all members of the Hokie Nation and others touched by our tragedy to choose one name, to select one of the 32 victims to remember. Study their pictures to remember their smiles. Take note of their passions, their accomplishments, and their dreams and wishes. Learn everything you can so that no matter how much time passes, at least a little memory of that person will remain with you. Perhaps, after many years, the name you have chosen will be all that is left, but it will be a name worthy of remembrance.

Let us all lift upon our shoulders the victims we have chosen and carry them with us so that they may, through us, live the lives that they should have. Every time we don the orange and maroon, let's think of them. Every time we meet up with fellow alumni, think of them. Every time we see "VT" or the HokieBird and every time we jump up and down as "Enter Sandman" plays while the football team takes the field, let them whisper in our ears, "Go, Hokies." Let us carry them forward so that we can forget the one name we shouldn't remember and instead recall more than just a date.

Choose one.

Michael Olsen M.S. '00, Alexandria, Va.

Collecting and preserving the stories of April 16

April 16 Archive
Using electronic media, the April 16 Archive was created to collect, preserve, and present the stories and a digital record of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. The university's Center for Digital Discourse and Culture launched this project with assistance from George Mason University's Center for History and New Media. Numerous Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff members have volunteered to help curate and maintain the archive, and they welcome contributions from members of the Virginia Tech community and others who wish to share their stories about the events of April 16. To access the archive, go to

There is a cherished college town tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains where people show love and respect, a community that opens its hearts and homes, even welcoming strangers from halfway around the world.

The world is not the same as it was when I was a student 26 years ago, but the goodness of the people in Blacksburg remains and the community at Virginia Tech will rise. You can see that in the inner strength and the dignity of students who talked to the media within hours of being shot at and watching their classmates and professors die. And you can see it in the families who have lost children and yet will not be goaded by reporters into assigning blame or spewing venom. The world sees this and will learn from it.

Today, the Virginia Tech campus has been branded as "the place of the greatest mass killing in U.S. history." But this also is a place where deep love lives. Love will prevail. It always does.

Alma Urs, who came from India to attend Virginia Tech from 1981 to 1983. Original article from Rediff News, April 20, 2007.

Corps of Cadets

Date: April 21, 2007
From: Maj. Gen. Jerry Allen, USAF (Ret.), commandant of cadets
To: The members of the regiment

It is impossible to make any sense of the tragedy that took place here on 16 April. But one thing is clear: your professionalism and leadership by example are already shaping the future at Virginia Tech. From President Steger's office to alumni worldwide, we have received countless messages of thanks for the leadership demonstrated by the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. These comments are primarily based on what people saw at the Convocation as the Highty-Tighties and Color Guard did their duty, along with dozens of cadets who added dignity to the event by serving as ushers.

Yet most people are not aware of the many other things you did. One cadet led his classmates out of a Norris classroom. You and your commanders established accountability very quickly and accurately. Cadets helped lead the evacuation of the academic area.

You volunteered to guard the Alumni Association wreath in the chapel and then in front of the cenotaph. There were so many volunteers that the tours of duty were reduced from one hour to 15 minutes.

One of my most emotional experiences in nine years as commandant occurred as the deputies and I marched behind the regiment en route to the candlelight vigil on Tuesday evening. As we came down the hill from the PAB toward Burruss, the entire regiment stretched out in front of us. It was a marvelous display of outstanding cadets in distinctive blue-and-white uniforms. You exemplified the spirit of Ut Prosim. I was proud of your professionalism, and the crowds watched you with great respect. And, of course, they were reverent during Echo Taps.

On Sunday [April 22], Col. Roszak, Maj. McNeill, Col. Lentz, several cadets, and I will travel to New Jersey for Matt La Porte’s services. Lt. Col. Payne is already there, assisting the family. We expect that the family will also come to Blacksburg for services at the Blacksburg Catholic Church and burial on April 25. The entire regiment will participate in honoring Matt.

Two law enforcement officers have told us they are convinced that Matt La Porte made an heroic attempt to subdue the shooter. Matt's effort to help others was courageous. His family is also demonstrating amazing courage. They have said that they have no anger toward Virginia Tech and that their aim is to help the university recover.

Please keep the La Porte family and the families of all of the deceased and wounded in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for your leadership.

View more of the images of condolence and support received by the university.

Read more of the condolences received by Virginia Tech Magazine.

Editor's page | President's message | In memoriam | Convocation remarks
We will prevail (photo essay) | The world now knows Virginia Tech | Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund | 4.16.07

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