Virginia Tech students will attend class on theanniversary of the 2007 shooting that left 32people and the shooter dead for the first time.The students hope to attend in honor of the fallenvictims on the fifth anniversary of the shooting.
Students were headed to class Monday at VirginiaTech, the first year the school hasn't suspendedinstruction to mark the anniversary of a 2007rampage that left 32 people and the gunman dead.
The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting inmodern U.S. history.
Provost Mark McNamee, who chaired a committee thatplanned memorial events in the years after theshooting, said the return to classes reflects thelives of those slain.
"Their passion for education, their desire to dogood in the world, their commitment to theirdisciplines come through so strongly that we feltbeing in classes was one special way ofremembering them onward," McNamee said. "This iswhat they did, this is what we do, and it'simportant to us.
"My sense is that our students and our faculty areready for it," he said.
The day will be remembered in other ways on theBlacksburg campus, in Washington, and by alumniacross the country.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was scheduled toaddress a campus-wide candlelight vigil on theDrillfield, the heart of the campus. McDonnell hasissued a proclamation recognizing April 16asVirginia Tech Remembrance Day.
The proclamation honors the 32 lives that were"hastily taken, leaving absences that will neverbe filled and a profound sense of sorrow in thelives of those impacted," the proclamation readsin part.
At 9:43 a.m. Monday -- the time when gunman Seung-Hui Cho began killing 30 students and professorsat Norris Hall -- McDonnell was calling for amoment of silence in Virginia. The Capitol SquareBell Tower in Richmond will then toll for eachvictim.
On campus, events will also include a communitypicnic on the Drillfield, a display of memorialitems sent to Virginia Tech from other collegesand universities and performances. Severallocations have been set aside on campus as "quietplaces for reflection."
At Norris Hall, where Cho also killed himself, anopen house was scheduled. The former classroombuilding is now home to the Center for PeaceStudies and Violence Prevention.
The center was established after the killings atNorris Hall in 2009 "to transform a place of pain,suffering and violence that can prevent futureviolence," director James Hawdon said. The centerpromotes student volunteerism and "nonviolentcompassionate communication" techniques, he said.
Hawdon, a sociology professor who was on campusduring the 2007 carnage, said initially somepeople were hesitant to visit a peace centerlocated in a place that had seen so much death.Once people overcome that, hesaid, "I think it'scathartic for them."
Hawdon said April 16 anniversaries have evolvedfrom profoundly somber days to "a strong sense ofcommunity and a desire to work towards making theworld a better place. We hope we can make adifference."
McNamee said survivors and parents of studentsslain five years ago have been part of theplanning committee on anniversaries. They werefearful the events of April 16, 2007, would dimwith time, so the university has stuck to symbolicremembrances of the day such as the candlelightvigil and a 3.2-mile run over the weekend thatattracted 6,800 participants.
While the vast majority of students who were oncampus in 2007 are gone, many current facultymembers were there. He said he has heard nocomplaints about the decision to hold classesMonday.
Still, he said, memories of that day "can catchyou by surprise."
"It's not too deeply buried," McNamee said. "Afaculty member may be teaching and remember thatday."
In Washington, Virginia Tech survivor ColinGoddard and other gun control advocates wouldbegin two days of lobbying Congress on Monday.
Goddard's documentary, "Living for 32," will alsobe screened on college campuses and communitiesacross the country.
Alumni groups have been sponsoring service-basedevents leading to and on the anniversary. InDelaware, for instance, the First State Chapterparticipated in a Habitat for Humanity projectSaturday, while members of the Portland, Ore.,chapter volunteered for a tree planting.
The Denver chapter sponsored a 3.2-mile"Remembrance Walk/Run" on Sunday, and the NationalCapital Region Chapter sponsored a blood drive inthe Washington suburbs.
In Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadetswas to conclude the day by standing guard for 32minutes prior to the 11:59 p.m. snuffing of aceremonial candle.