Jennifer Brack, adviser to USFâs student government, led the Virginia Tech vigil Wednesday afternoon on USFâs Tampa campus.
"What happened at VT defies logic, which can naturally create confusion and frustration. So we are joined today by those who can offer their services and support to any of you who can benefit. (Many different religions were represented on behalf of the Campus Ministry Association.)
At times like this, many of us feel helpless yet committed to offer support. VT acknowledges people around the world want ways of paying tribute. On their website, many have posted messages to the VT community. We welcome you to do the same. The University has also created the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund to support memorials, grief counseling and other support.â
Later Brack read from a speech VT Prof Nikki Giovanni gave at the convocation in Blacksburg, VA. Tuesday night. "'We are Virginia Tech, we are sad today and we will be sad for quite a while...We are better than we think. And not quite what we want to be. We will continue to invent the future. We are the Hokies. We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.'"
John Gardner of Valrico was one of the first to show up for the vigil, wearing a Chicago maroon-colored dress shirt and a necktie striped with burnt orange and the same shade of red. He moved to Tampa 20 years ago, right after graduating from Virginia Tech.
Immediately I wanted to approach him because of the festive school colors, not to mention he was one of the first arrivals, silently milling about. But I passed him, hesitating whether to keep walking or not. He was noticeably saddened, pacing, and I didn't stop. A few minutes later, I collected the courage to approach him, now sitting on a bench behind dark glasses. Gently I asked if he felt like speaking with me. He agreed amiably, but couldnât give me more than a sentence before he was overcome by his grief.
He managed to compliment USF on the organization of the vigil before politely ending our interview.
I didn't interview anyone else with such a personal connection to VT, or one fighting so hard to keep the tears at bay. Regardless, the students who began filling up the lawn were contemplative, reserved, yet eager to give me their input on the events at VT, each acknowledging that it could have as easily happened here.
Maja Lacevic, a sophomore from Bosnia, volunteered at the vigil, offering students cards to write well wishes that would be sent to the Virginia Tech community. "Every time I hear about violence around the world, itâs always a little bit of a shock. I came to America to escape all that stuff.â