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"Je me souviens."

When I got up this morning, I tried to remember how I felt three years ago when horrible news began spreading around my college dorm like a virus: there had been a mass shooting on campus.

On April 16, 2007, I was a sophomore at Virginia Tech and as I would learn later that day, 32 people had died in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

This year's anniversary will carry different meaning than those of the past. Many of the freshmen who witnessed the tragic event will graduate on May 14, meaning this year's anniversary will probably be the last to include a large group of students who were on campus that fateful day.

When interviewing seniors for that story, many told me they would "never forget" how they felt when they first learned of the news. Every student said the tragic event had changed their lives.

I had only just started writing for the school newspaper, the Collegiate Times, earlier that semester, so journalism was a new frontier for me.

While out reporting for stories, I noticed how more and more people really wanted to know what had happened. When I interviewed students, I was asked just as many questions as I asked them.

It was my community's thirst for truth that really solidified the importance of good journalism for me.

Today, the university will commemorate the victims with a series of planned activities meant to bring the community together in remembrance.

One of the people who will be at this evening's candlelight vigil will be Molly Pearl, a senior who because she slept through her french class is still alive today. Twelve of her classmates were killed in the shootings.

She honored her fallen friends with a tattoo on her foot. It reads "Je me souviens"--"I remember" in French.

Please feel free to leave your memories of the 32 Virginia Tech shooting victims below.

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By T. Rees Shapiro  |  April 16, 2010; 10:18 AM ET
 | Tags: Collegiate Times, School, Student newspaper, United States, Violence and Abuse, Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Tech  
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Comments

T. Rees,
Your article was beautifully written.
Not only did it honor the memory of the slain students, it informed us that those who managed to evade or survive the tragedy will forever be changed by the experience.
Pearl's reaction is very human.
As a military retiree's wife, I'm glad you've highlighted Pearl's reaction because we have a lot of young soldiers who are returning from the battle theatre who are enduring the same problems and we need to be ready to welcome them back and soothe their nightmares.
Thank you for your article; it's hard to believe that these years have gone by so quickly.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | April 16, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

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