Updated 04/15/2009 06:08 AM
Binghamton University mourns ACA victims
VESTAL, N.Y. -- Binghamton University finally got a chance to grieve together on Tuesday. It was an emotional afternoon memorial service, 11 days after the April 3rd shootings.
"You begin to learn how to cope with such tragedy and sadness, it's never completely gone," said Binghamton University President Lois DeFleur.
Binghamton University lost 13 alumni during 9-11 and built a memorial garden that served as a background for Tuesday's service. Now they add more to the ranks of those honored here, including two visiting scholars, the parent of a student and an alumna.
"Words are completely inadequate to describe what went on, but everyone wants to and has to talk about it. It has profoundly shaken this campus," said Donald Nieman, Dean of Harpur College at BU.
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The students were on Spring Break during the tragedy, but they returned to a campus and community quite different from the one they left.
"When people ask us where we go to college and we say Binghamton, their next question is usually where is that. But not anymore. Now the outside world knows where Binghamton is, but for all the wrong reasons," said Matt Landau, BU's Student Assembly president.
The greater campus also held a vigil Tuesday evening where they lit candles for the 13 victims, as well as a controversial one for the killer, Jiverly Wong. But amid the pain, they also looked for the good.
"People who had differences have now come together, because we understand the importance and the value of what these immigrants were trying to become," said Paul Liggieri, a Binghamton University senior.
And coming together as students and as members of the Binghamton community has been an important part of the healing process.
"At a time like this, we can't afford to grieve independently. We need to have some collective unity and to show that even though we are grieving we are able to move," said Maryam Belly, BU's vice president for multicultural affairs.
There is still a tough road ahead for many, but at least for now, they know they don't have to go it alone.
The students are planning a fundraiser for the ACA in the coming weeks and also signed a banner that they'll present to the Civic Association.