A light, somber wind blew through campus Wednesday evening as the University of Miami paid tribute to the 33 students and staff who lost their lives Monday at Virginia Tech.
The gentle breeze ever so slightly rustled the branches that hang over the University Center Rock as Shajena Erazo, the Student Government executive secretary, read the names of the fallen.
A line of 33 student leaders clutched candles lit to memorialize each of the victims, in addition to the gunman.
They faced hundreds of their peers, who packed the area between The Rock and the UC to pay their respects, also holding candles.
UM President Donna E. Shalala offered her sympathies and repeatedly emphasized the two ACC universities were very much the same.
“Tonight we are Virginia Tech. We share their horror and their grief,” she said. “Tonight we are Virginia Tech. We are their brother and their sisters.”
At the end of her remarks, Shalala let out three words that reverberated in Blacksburg a day earlier as thousands chanted: “Let’s go Hokies.” Akin to how she began the chant earlier in the day at the Hug the Lake event, Shalala slowly enlivened the crowd to speak in unison as candles glimmered and wax dripped onto cut up paper cups.
SG President Danny Carvajal spoke prior to Shalala, saying the university was there for Virginia Tech-a sister school.
“We are confident Virginia Tech will heal and prevail,” he said.
Carvajal also asked students to sign a banner and a scrapbook to be sent to Va. Tech with the baseball team this weekend (please see pg. 19).
Greg Linch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.