A Light in the Darkness
Candlelight vigils were held at colleges and universities across Florida Wednesday night in remembrance of the tragedy that took 33 lives at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute earlier in the week. Candles were put out just before 9 p.m. at the University of Florida, but students said the memory of those lives lost will burn on.
Orange and maroon joined the orange and blue sweatshirts that normally occupy U.F.'s Reitz Union in a ceremony that began around 8:15. Over 1,000 people from the U.F. community attended the vigil, including Lydia Breckenridge, a 2003 graduate of Va. Tech's chemistry program. She said when she was there, the only thing that could make the campus erupt were football games.
"It was just a really safe campus and a really great community to be from," Breckenridge said. "I have wonderful memories."
Breckenridge came from England to attend the Institute and met her husband Daniel while studying there. He said they came to Florida so she could attend graduate school at U.F.; otherwise, they would be in Blacksburg lending their support to that community.
"Unfortunately, we're pretty far away, so it's good to come out tonight," he said.
Over 1,000 candles were lit at the end of the ceremony as a symbol of U.F.'s dedication to shining a light during this dark time. In total, the ceremony lasted just over 30 minutes, but according to gatherers that was enough time.
"There's healing that comes from just being together and sharing the grief," Sr. Margaret Harig of the Campus Ministry Cooperative said.
It was also an opportunity to send personal messages to Va. Tech on five poster size cards. Breckenridge said it's important to remember the victims, but she does not want the school's image to be tarnished by this senseless act of violence.
"It's just an awful way for Virginia Tech to be remembered," she said. "It is an amazing place and I hope the world just doesn't stick this stigma to it."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News
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