As shock and sorrow continued to stifle the nation, the Penn State community came together for a vigil honoring those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday night in front of Old Main.
Near the armillary sphere on the Old Main terrace, white rose pedals, flickering candlelight and dripping wax sat atop letters and scraps of paper carrying the names of those who were shot.
“Bless all these who passed in this recent tragedy and all of their families,” and “You will not be forgotten. Time will help heal,” were a few somber thoughts left at the memorial earlier in the day.
For Kevin Gallagher (senior-broadcast journalism), a cousin of one the boys who was killed, the tragedy could not have struck closer to home.
“I got a call from my mother who was very upset, and she told me what happened,” he said. “At 7 o’clock on Friday, I learned that he was gone.”
Gallagher said that many people that have heard about his situation do not know what to say because “there isn’t much to say.”
“Make sure you cherish everything you have, the people you have,” he said. “When you’re done with [finals], get home and hug your family.”
As other attendees of the vigil huddled close together, candles in hand, Penn State a cappella group Coda Conduct sang "Home," as the clock neared 7 p.m.
Shortly after, current Penn State students that graduated from Newtown High School offered their thoughts, one by one. They declined to be named.
“My brother attended that school and was there that day,” one student said. “Luckily my brother was in the closet, saved by the same teacher I had 10 years ago.”
Described as a classic town of $2 movie tickets, quaint neighborhoods and sandwiches named after popular spots, Newtown has now given way to a place “where every reporter has set up camp,” another graduate from the high school said.
“This is our town. There’s more to our town than a shooting,” she added.
Jill Tatios (freshman-broadcast journalism) said that, while shootings are nothing new for the country, it is unimaginable that elementary school children would be killed.
“No one thought it would go that far,” she said. “Something has to be done whether that be gun control or mental health prevention.”
Madeline Shott (freshman-broadcast journalism) echoed running thoughts of the past few days by saying that the focus must be diverted from the perpetrator and instead be focused on the people who lost their lives.
After reading the first names and ages of all the children and women who died aloud, president of the Penn State Student Black Caucus Ryan Brown (senior-integrative arts) said that all victims -- from every shooting -- must be held in remembrance.
“Twenty children will not be where you are standing. Twenty children will not get the chance to go to prom, graduate from high school or college or experience their lives,” he said. “This is something that cannot be forgotten.”