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The Queen's Visit to Virginia

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The Queen's Visit to Virginia

The Queen's Visit to Virginia

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

NPR's Adam Hochberg has been covering Queen Elizabeth's visit to the United States this week. The queen has helped celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, and paid tribute to the Virginia Tech shooting victims. Here is a page from Adam's Reporter's Notebook.

ADAM HOCHBERG: Two and a half weeks ago, hundreds of journalists flooded into Virginia to report on the mass shootings of Virginia Tech. This week, many of those same reporters were back for the much happier occasion of the royal visit.

The queen's trip here to commemorate Jamestown's 400th anniversary was planned long before last month's violence. But in some ways, its timing turned out to be fortuitous in a state where flags still fly at half-staff and where Governor Tim Kaine says the tragedy still weighs heavily.

Governor TIM KAINE (Democrat, Virginia): Virginians are still grieving about this so, you know, but human beings often can have competing and conflicting emotions within them. And I think, the positive welcome for the queen could be a good therapeutic thing for Virginians right now.

(Soundbite of music)

HOCHBERG: Thursday, the public was invited to the state capital lawn to celebrate the queen's visit. But as people spread blankets and listened to music, some were in a less than fully celebratory mood.

Shelby Perry(ph), who wore a Virginia Tech jacket, came hoping the royal hoopla would help take her mind off what happened in Blacksburg.

Ms. SHELBY PERRY (Resident, Virginia): For a lot of people, it's a diversion right now. You know, the media has now switched. It's not constantly showing the Virginia Tech thing on TV when you get home from work. And there's more of a celebration with this so, you know, this has diverted my mind to change into something else.

HOCHBERG: Queen Elizabeth met privately with some Virginia Tech students and administrators, then expressed condolences during a speech to the state legislature. That gesture meant a lot to retired school teacher Cathy Holland(ph) who wore a hat bearing Virginia Tech's Hokie mascot and a ribbon memorializing the shooting victim from her home county.

Ms. CATHY HOLLAND (Former School Teacher, Virginia): It's been hurtful. It's been sad but everybody has responded, including the queen. It's connecting England to America to Virginia to Virginia Tech. We are all Hokies.

HOCHBERG: Next weekend marks the culmination of Jamestown's anniversary party. Organizers have scheduled three days of events, including concerts, historic reenactments and a visit from President Bush. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will hold its graduation and grant posthumous degrees to last month's victims, making for a weekend of both celebration and reflection in a state still coming to terms with its loss.

SIMON: NPR's Adam Hochberg.

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