In honor of the fifth anniversary of April 16, 2007, campus shootings, the Newman House will be dedicating a memorial built in its backyard.
The campus Catholic ministry built a memorial amphitheater that will be used for retreats, presentations or just relaxing in the sun.
“The idea of the amphitheater is this is a place of gathering. When people gather together, there’s friendship and faith,” the Rev. John Grace said. “And the seeds of friendship and faith are of course are acceptance and love. And that’s what this represents. It’s a gathering place for people. It pushes against alienation. It pushes against fear and it certainly pushes against hate.”
Though it's not the first project the Newman community has undertaken to pay tribute to the 32 that lost their lives, Grace said this one will have a more lasting impact.
“When I arrived here shortly after April 16, to mark the first anniversary we had a CD called ‘Voices of Hope’ that was composed and performed by all of the students that were here on April 16 that first evening,” Grace said. “I’ve always wanted to have a more permanent marker here as far as remembrance that’s also incorporated into the life of what we represent.”
Plans for making this kind of monument have been talked about for a while, but Grace decided to choose this completion date because of its significance.
“The fifth year is just one of those numbers people mark in a special way as far as remembrance,” he said. “Now, we had the resources and the energy to do this and so we aimed for the fifth anniversary.”
Students volunteered their time during the past month to dig the amphitheater into the steep slope of the hill in which it is built. For students like Mike Bylund, the memorial represents the strength of the community — the very thing that convinced him Tech was the place for him.
“After 4/16 happened, I didn’t want to come here less, I wanted to come here more because I saw the way the community responded,” Bylund, a first-year graduate student, said. “That’s what this is all about. This is a place for us to gather. Faith, family, love and community — that’s the only way you get through something like that.”
Volunteers placed the finishing touches on the project this weekend, and the Newman community will officially dedicate the memorial today.