One month after the massacre on the Virginia Tech campus, the college community is coming together for this year's commencement ceremony.
Today is graduation day at Virginia Tech. As many as 30-thousand are expected at the ceremony for 36-hundred seniors and more than a thousand graduate students. But a veil of mourning still shrouds the campus from last month's mass shootings.
As the Virginia Tech community prepares for tonight's graduation ceremony, they are trying to strike the seemingly-impossible balance between joy and grief. The 27 students who were killed when a fellow student opened fire on campus less than a month ago, will receive posthumous degrees – and the five faculty members will be honored.
“Some of the families have elected to come and participate in the ceremonies this weekend – some have decided not to,” says Virginia Tech Spokesman Mark Owczarski.
The commencement is the first milestone for Virginia Tech since the tragedy, but closure is still far off. On Thursday, Governor Tim Kaine convened the first meeting of a panel to examine how the shooting unfolded.
“We owe it to the victims, to those who were killed, to those who were wounded, family members and friends – we owe it to those people to learn everything we can about what happened, and why, on that day,” Governor Kaine says.
The questions are easier asked than answered. Instead, many have chosen to embrace what is positive.
“We've all had three or four weeks now to mourn, and for us graduating students, it's going to be hopefully more of a celebration,” says graduating senior, Richard Roopan.
Five-thousand graduates leave the home of the Hokies today – their experience tainted by the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history, but defined by the spirit of strength that emerged from it.