Thousands of Virginia Tech students, faculty and area residents gathered on campus Tuesday nightfor a solemn candlelight vigil to honour and mourn the32 victims of Monday's shooting rampage.

Mourners held thousands of candles as speakers urged them to find solace in one another.


Students comfort one another at a candlelight vigil on the Virginia Tech drill field on Tuesday to honour the victims of Monday's shooting rampage. ((Roanoke Times/Sam Dean/Associated Press))

"We will move on from this, but it will take the strength of each other to do that," said Zenobia Hikes, vice president for student affairs. "We want the world to know we are Virginia Tech, we will recover, we will survive with your prayers.

The vigil came hours afterU.S. President George W. Bush told an arena full of students, staff and family members that they are not alone in their grief.

"People who have never met you are praying for you, they're praying for your friends who have fallen or are injured," Bush told an afternoon memorial service Tuesday at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg.

The 10,000-seat basketball arena was filled to capacity with row after row of students, many wearing orange Virginia Tech shirts. Many wiped tears from their eyes as they listened quietly to the service.


U.S. President George W. Bush, speaking at the memorial ceremony at Virginia Tech, told the grieving crowd that he and his wife, Laura Bush, had 'hearts full of sorrow.' ((Gerald Herbert/Associated Press))

Bush told the crowd that he and his wife, Laura Bush, had "hearts full of sorrow" for the 32 students and staff who were killed and the 15 others who were wounded Monday morning by a gunman, who then killed himself.

A day that started as an ordinary Monday quickly took a "dark turn," Bush said.

"By the end of the morning, it was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history and for many of you here, it was the worst day of your lives."

The president, quoting the Bible, urged the crowd to overcome evil with good and promised that one day life will return to normal at Virginia Tech, although those who died will never be forgotten.

School pulling together

Zenobia Hikes, the school's vice-president of student affairs and another speaker at the memorial, said the school has been pulling together to support each other since the shootings at a college dormitory andan engineering building.

"This global tragedy is one we never imagined seeing on our university campus," Hikes told the crowd.

"Because of it, not only did we lose dear members of the Virginia Tech community … we have lost the sense of peace that comes with learning.

"We will eventually recover, but we will never forget."


Students embrace during the memorial service. The 10,000-seat basketball arena was filled to capacity with students, staff and members of the shooting victims' families. ((Steve Helber/Associated Press))

Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia, also addressed the crowd, explaining that he and his wife were in Tokyo when the killings occurred.

"We were awakened with a call at 1 a.m. to report that a horrible tragedy had taken place on this campus," he said.

Kaine said he spent the next 10 hours frantically trying to get a flight home. As he waited in his hotel room and at the airport, he watched televised newscasts about the tragedy.

Those broadcasts revealed how caring the Virginia Tech community is, he said.

"Before it was about who was to blame and what could be done differently, it was about how do we take care of each other."

The names of many of the victims were released on Tuesday, including that of Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, who was born in Montreal and taught French in Virginia Tech's department of foreign languages.

Police also released the name of the gunman, a 23-year-old student at Virginia Tech, but said they hadn't yet ruled out the possibility that there was more than one shooter.

With files from the Associated Press