This past weekend has been a difficult time of remembrance for Hokies everywhere, as Sunday, April 16 marked the 10th anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. It is often difficult to bring the emotions surrounding that day to the surface again, and even though it may be painful to remember, it is important to never forget the lives that were lost and to honor their memories in any way that we can.
At the Moss Arts Center on Friday night, the annual Performance in Remembrance was held to honor the lives of the 32 victims and to send a message of healing and hope to those still grieving and trying to make sense of something that never will. The theater was packed, and the audience was mostly silent as it watched and listened to the performances respectfully.
The show started with a performance by Contemporary Dance Ensemble. Members of the group danced over a spoken word track as the now iconic words of poet and Virginia Tech professor Nicki Giovanni, which she delivered a day after the tragedy, filled the theater. Her words still perfectly sum up the Virginia Tech community and its strength and resilience, even in the face of such a horrifying tragedy. We acknowledge the tragedy as part of our history, but it does not define us.
In the hour or so that followed the opening performance, the Virginia Tech choirs delivered powerful performances, along with the wind ensemble, that celebrated Appalachian heritage and sought to encourage the audience to lift each other up and reach out to one another. English professors Ed Falco and Matthew Vollmer also read their own poems and essays, reflecting on their personal experiences and adding a little humor to lessen the hurt, if only for a second, that thinking of April 16th may bring. As Giovanni said, “We are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.” Through graceful movements, Contemporary Dance Ensemble provided messages of helping out those in pain and unifying to face the world together.
Although we may want to leave what happened in the past, we need to come together and show our support for the victims’ families and those injured or affected by the tragedy, those who don’t have the option of forgetting. We need to acknowledge the pain for those who still live have to live with it every day. And we need to pay respect to the lives that ended in a way that paid them no respect. We need to recognize that those who died were not just victims or numbers, but were real people who deserve to be remembered for how they lived, not how they died. That’s what the Weekend of Remembrance is all about.