As the world reeled from the tragedy that claimed 33 lives at Virginia Tech, the Roanoke College community gathered around the College Bell on the Back Quad and stood silently, listening to the bell ring 33 times in honor of those whose lives had ended.
That ceremony, held Tuesday afternoon, was just one of several ways the Roanoke College campus tried to grapple with the horrible event that had happened little more than 24 hours before. The shootings at Virginia Tech touched many lives in many ways, and the connections to the Roanoke College community keep growing.
The College has offered its deepest condolences and held several events to help the community extend support, offer prayers and even receive counseling. On Monday, a previously scheduled observance of the Holocaust Remembrance Day was expanded to include prayers and remembrances of the Virginia Tech victims. The service closed with prayers and the lighting of candles.
"Tonight we mourn, and we remember the past. We mourn and remember the present," Roanoke College President Sabine O'Hara said.
"The events of the day leave us speechless, lost for words, deeply saddened and shocked." Rev. James Mauney, Bishop of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, offered prayers for the victims at Virginia Tech. And Rev. Paul Henrickson, Dean of the Chapel, closed the service.
"We know all too clearly, all too dearly, that this pain touches us," Henrickson said. "We can't forget we're all in this mix of life together." As candles were lit, he added, "With the candles, we see the fire of hope for faith in the future."
On Tuesday, many students, faculty and staff also stopped by the Colket Center to pick up free maroon and orange ribbons to wear through the end of the year in honor of the lives lost.
The Roanoke College flag, the Virginia state flag and the U.S. flag all are at half-mast.
This weekend, as people return for Alumni Weekend, Antrim Chapel will be open for quiet meditation and prayers. A condolence book also will be available in the chapel for alumni, faculty, staff and students to sign.
Information regarding safety on Roanoke's campus is available online.