Written by Jack McCarthy
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 00:00
Family members of victims stood in front of a memorial at Northern Illinois University as president John Peters and Gov. Pat Quinn spoke last week in tribute of five students killed in a campus shooting on Feb. 14, 2008. Photo by News Bulletin staff.
NIU community recalls slain, injured on 5th anniversary of campus shootings
Northern Illinois University President John Peters led a ceremony last Thursday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Feb. 14, 2008, tragedy inside Cole Hall.
Around 500 persons—including Gov. Pat Quinn—attended the commemoration in front of Cole Hall on the NIU campus.
Here are President Peters' remarks.
By most measures, five years is a fleetingly brief time. On a college campus, however, that span approximates a generation.
So it is that as we come together, almost no undergraduate student currently enrolled at Northern experienced firsthand the terrible tragedy of five years ago. None of them experienced the shock, the heartbreak or the despair that gripped our campus that day.
Conversely, none of them had the privilege of sharing campus with the five who were taken from us that day.
They never got to benefit from the generosity of Gayle Dubowski
Never got to share a laugh with the always-smiling Catalina Garcia
Never saw how Juliana Gehant brightened a room just by entering
Never got to benefit from the insights Ryanne Mace shared with classmates
And they never got the opportunity to enjoy the friendship of the “gentle giant” that was Dan Parmenter
However, while they may not realize it, today’s students are touched by the presence of those five students each and every day.
Because what happened in Cole Hall five years ago forever changed Northern. It taught us lessons that have transformed what it means to be a Huskie.
We learned to cherish one another, because tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
We learned to take care of one another.
Above, Gov. Quinn and Peters approach a platform to deliver remarks. Below, persons on hand for last week's memorial to five Northern Illinois University students killed by a gunman on Feb. 14, 2008 pay tribute as they solemnly walk past slabs placed in memory of each. Photos by News Bulletin staff.
We learned that the pain of tragedy is far reaching, but that the grace of compas
sion reaches even further.
We learned that in a world of harshness and pettiness we should strive to rise above the rancor and treat all those around us with kindness and respect.
Finally, we learned that when misfortune befalls us, the best response is to learn from it and move forward … together forward.
Those lessons are a gift left to us by those taken from us far too soon. It is their legacy. By heeding those lessons, it is a way for us to take some good from what is otherwise a senseless tragedy.
This is the last time I will have the honor of presiding over this remembrance. Like that generation of students that has moved on, so must I. However, I will always hold in my heart those lessons, trying to apply them every day as a humble tribute to Gayle, Catalina, Juliana, Ryanne and Dan. I hope you will do the same.
Quinn also delivered brief remarks at the memorial observance. Here is a statement he issued on Thursday:
“Five years ago we lost five innocent souls in a tragedy that shook our state and our nation. That dark day was full of sadness, fear and despair and we will never forget it.
“But the day after, and every day since, has been filled with hope, strength and compassion. The NIU family came together to mourn those we have lost by celebrating what they brought to our lives.
“We repurposed Cole Hall to ensure it will be a place of learning and achievement for thousands of students for years to come. By supporting each other in good times and bad, we made our community stronger.
“Today we honor Catalina Garcia, Daniel Parmenter, Gayle Dubowski, Julianna Gehant and Ryanne Mace. May God rest their immortal souls.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 15:05