The 18-person steering committee charged with the overall planning of on-campus activities to be held on Thursday, April 16, 2009, has established the preliminary schedule of public events to be held on the Virginia Tech campus that day.

Information on all events planned that day has not been finalized. Final event information will be available on the “April 16, 2009: A Day of Remembrance” website ( This website will be live and linked to the university homepage the week of March 9.

The events planned that day include

  • A ceremonial candle will be lit early Thursday morning, at 12:01 a.m., at the April 16 Memorial. Members of the Corps of Cadets will stand guard by the candle during the entire day. The candle will be extinguished at 11:59 p.m. that evening.
  • A 5K Run in Remembrance will start at 8 a.m. on the Blacksburg campus. Participants may run or walk. Commemorative T-shirts will be provided to those who register. Extended campus sites will be invited to plan similar runs.
  • At noon, a university-wide commemoration event will be held on the Drillfield at the April 16 Memorial, rain or shine. During this event, three wreaths will be placed at the memorial site. One wreath will be in memory of those who lost their lives that day, a second will honor survivors, and a third will recognize members of the Hokie family who have passed away since April 2007. The program will recognize the 32 students and faculty who lost their lives that day with comments on the special qualities of each person read aloud.
  • The Virginia Tech and extended community will be invited to bring a picnic lunch and remain on the Drillfield following the ceremony.
  • At sundown (approximately 8 p.m.), a candlelight vigil will be held on the Drillfield at the April 16 Memorial (rain or shine). The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets will signal the start of the vigil with a Silent Drill. The event will be coordinated by Virginia Tech students representing a variety of student organizations.
  • During the afternoon, the university will provide venues across campus where individuals or groups may wish to express or witness remembrances in the form of poetry or other readings; writing; musical or artistic performances; art creation; or other activities. In addition, the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention will host an open house at their new location in Norris Hall.

Specific information on all “expressions of remembrance” events will be posted to the “April 16, 2009: A Day of Remembrance” website, as they are finalized.

In January 2009, Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger established a steering committee to guide the discussion on-campus activities to be held on April 16, 2009. The committee included students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members, plus students and family members directly affected by the tragedy. Provost Mark McNamee served as committee chair and Deborah A. Day, director of the Office of Recovery and Support, served as vice-chair.

“The committee met three times and explored a variety of ideas for the official university observances of the second year remembrance of the April 16, 2007, tragedy,” said McNamee. “The committee benefited greatly from the advice and support of the affected families and students. Many of the events are inspired by the activities held last year.”

“Several major decisions emerged by consensus from the committee’s deliberations and consultation with loved ones of those killed and survivors and their families, including the recommendation to cancel classes,” said McNamee. “The events will be simple and respectful, and opportunities will be provided for anyone who wishes to honor the memories of the victims.”

Although Virginia Tech will not hold classes on April 16, 2009, the university will be open. Faculty and staff will be offered as much flexibility as possible so they can participate in activities.

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