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Workers archive roughly 3K items to determine future of Virginia Beach tragedy memorials

Staff members at Virginia Beach History Museums are cataloging and preserving tributes that were left at the city's municipal center after the mass shooting there.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It’s a labor of love that can be harder than some might think.

"It's a very emotional process,” said Anne Miller, Manager of the Virginia Beach History Museums. "We are committed to each of these individuals who went through this and preserving their experiences and memories."

Miller and her staff have sifted through about 3,000 sentimental items that were collected from the Municipal Center memorial.

Over the past weeks, it served as a place of solace for many in the visitors. The items dropped off by family and community members are now in museum storage.

"[The items] represent the care and the support of the community and they have so many signatures,” said Miller.

The items range from posters to about 1,000 rocks and shells.

There is also a room dedicated to items given specifically to victims and their family members. Each item is photographed, so that loved ones can decide which ones to hold onto.

“What we want everyone to know, not just the survivors and the families but everyone, is that we are committed to each of these individuals who went through this and preserving their experiences and memories,” said Miller.

Every item will be preserved in some form or fashion.

"As we move forward in the planning process for a permanent memorial, we'll see if any can be incorporated in that or if we'll use them in a different way like in an exhibit,” Miller said.

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Miller told 13News Now that more than 2,000 responses flooded into an online survey that asked about the future of a permanent and temporary memorial.

Some responses indicated people wanted to tear down building two and build the memorial there, while others do not want it in the area as a daily reminder of the tragedy. 

A temporary memorial or exhibit would most likely be in a library or another area, Miller said. 

She said there will be many more chances for the public and victim’s families to weigh in on the future of each.

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