Thursday, April 26, 2007
Senior at V Tech: "My family didn't raise me to do what is popular"
Student Adds Memorial Stone for Gunman
Virginia Tech Senior Cites Moral Responsibility
BLACKSBURG, Va. (April 26) - A senior at Virginia Tech said moral responsibility led her to add a stone for gunman Seung-Hui Cho to a memorial for his 32 shooting victims that was set up at Virginia Tech late last week.
The stone was later removed, but was restored by Wednesday morning.
Katelynn Johnson, a senior sociology-psychology major, identified herself in a letter to the Collegiate Times as the person who added the stone for Cho.
"My family did not raise me to do what is popular," she wrote in her letter to the campus newspaper. "They raised me to do what is morally right. We did not lose only 32 students and faculty members that day; we lost 33 lives."
In her letter, Johnson said she feared a backlash from students and possibly faculty members who did not agree with having a stone for the killer included in the memorial. But she said feedback since the letter was published has been largely positive.
The student organization Hokies United put 32 "Hokie Stones" - of local limestone used in university buildings - in a semicircle in front of the administration building to honor the 27 students and five faculty members whom Cho killed April 16.
The 33rd stone was added at about 4 a.m. Thursday, Johnson said.
Cho's stone was gone by Monday morning, and was replaced by a small American flag. On Wednesday morning, there were 33 stones again.
This time, the 33rd was on the far left, unmarked, and slightly apart from the others. It was adorned with tributes similar to those on the other memorials: flowers, candles and beads in maroon and orange.
University spokesman Mark Owczarski said that the student organization did not place or remove the stone for Cho, and that it would not interfere.
"They decided they would allow the expression of grief to take whatever form it needed to," he said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.