Bush Joins Mourners at VT Convocation A convocation has been held at Virginia Tech in honor of the victims who were shot Monday. President Bush was among many who spoke of the sorrow and grief at the tragedy.

Bush Joins Mourners at VT Convocation

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.


And I'm Madeleine Brand. In a few minutes, we'll remember some of the 33 lives lost yesterday in Virginia.

CHADWICK: First, we go to Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech has just completed its convocation ceremony.

(Soundbite of "Star-Spangled Banner")

CHADWICK: Students, facultyl and other members of the Virginia Tech community gathered in a basketball arena, many of them wearing the school colors, maroon and orange.

BRAND: Zenobia Lawrence Hikes, the vice president of student affairs, was the first to take the stage.

Dr. ZENOBIA LAWRENCE HIEKS (Vice President for Student Affairs, Virginia Tech University): We have lost not just these dear members of our Virginia Tech community; we have lost the sense of peace that comes with learning.

CHADWICK: And then Virginia Tech's president, Charles Steger, spke of the worldwide impact of the shooting.

Mr. CHARLES STEGER (President, Virginia Tech University): This afternoon, in this convocation, we see further testimony that the events that have occurred in our community yesterday had an effect not just on friends and family but on millions of people from around the world.

BRAND: Among them, President George Bush and his wife Laura. Also attending the convocation, here's President Bush.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow. This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community, and it is a day of sadness for our entire nation. We've come to express our sympathy. In this time of anguish, I hope you know that people all over this country are thinking about you and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected.

CHADWICK: And the president spoke about the shock that many people at this, the largest mass shooting in this country's history.

Pres. BUSH: It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering. Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now they're gone, and they leave behind grieving families and grieving classmates and a grieving nation.

BRAND: Religious forgiveness was a big theme of the convocation, including these words from the president.

Pres. BUSH: In times like this, we can find comfort in the grace and guidance of a loving God. As the Scriptures tell us, don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

CHADWICK: The ceremony went on for more than an hour. It included various members of religious communities offering their condolences and thoughts, including these representatives of the Muslim and Buddhist communities.

Professor SEDKI RIAD (Electrical Engineering, Virginia Tech University): (Arabic spoken) In the name of Allah, the most merciful, most compassionate, on behalf of the Muslim community in Blacksburg, and as members of the Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech communities, we express our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the innocent victims that we lost yesterday. I stand here to tell you that we are all in pain. All of us here, the children of Adam and Eve, will all unite in pain, and we're all hurt.

Ms. JULIE STILL (Soka Gakkai Buddhist Group): The number of deaths were utterly horrific. Every person lost was irreplaceable and immensely precious: a much-loved sister, father, son, teacher and friend. The message of all religious teachings is the sacredness and preciousness of life. In the most terrible manner imaginable, we have been reminded of the immense value of human life.

BRAND: A few of the highlights of today's convocation ceremony remembering the victims who died at Virginia Tech.

(Soundbite of music)

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