BLACKSBURG, Va. (WVEC) -- Sunday was a somber day on the Virginia Tech campus as the community marked ten years since the massacre there. On April 16, 2007, 32 people lost their lives when a gunman opened fire inside a building on campus.
Emotions ran high on campus. There were hugs, tears and quiet moments of reflection as thousands gathered to remember the darkest day in Virginia Tech's history. Even ten years later, the memory of what happened there is still so raw.
"It’s ten years out, but for the families whose loved ones were killed, there’s just so much pain still," Lori Haas told us on the Drillfield Sunday.
That pain was written on the faces of those gathered at the memorial. A flame burned for 24 hours in the middle of 32 stones adorned with wreaths, which represent each of the 32 lives lost that tragic day.
Lori Haas is one of the people who felt she needed to be in Blacksburg this weekend. When gunman Seung-Hui Cho started shooting inside Norris Hall, Haas' daughter Emily was hit twice in the head, but miraculously survived.
"I see their pain and I think ‘there but for the grace of God go my family,’" she lamented.
Families like the Haas' and those who lost loved ones that day have become their own kind of family, part of a club no one wants to join. But Sunday, Haas found solace in the thousands of people who came together.
Dolores Nickerson is one of the strangers showing support those she never got the chance to know.
"In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday and in other ways it feels like it’s been eons ago," she said.
The Chesapeake woman and Tech alum's heart is always in Blacksburg.
"It just didn’t seem like it could happen in what a lot of us consider heaven," Nickerson told 13News Now.
Over the years Nickerson has come to know some of the families who lost children that day, like the grieving loved ones of Lauren McCain from Hampton and Nicole White, who grew up in Smithfield.
"They had so much more to give in life and I think that’s the hardest part to understand," she added.
Many at Tech say we've come a long way since that day, others believe there's more work to be done as they continuing "living for 32."
"I’ve just witnessed far too much pain from families whose loved ones were shot and killed and I’ll do anything I can to save other families from that pain," Haas explained. "It’s all about moving forward."
At 11:59 Sunday, the flame will be extinguished and the candle brought back to Burruss Hall, representing the commitment to never forget what happened on April 16, 2007.