DeKALB – Many students who attended the memorial Thursday at Northern Illinois University were in high school when the Feb. 14, 2008, shooting occurred.
They weren't on campus when word spread of a former NIU student walking into Cole Hall and opening fire. They didn't wait on pins and needles to learn who survived, and who didn't. And they have never had the chance to meet the five students who were killed five years ago.
But that disconnect didn't stop these students from coming together like a family Thursday.
"Just because we didn't know them – they're still family to us," said Jordan Casey, a senior communications major. "They're still a part of the Huskie family. It still brings us together."
Casey was among the couple hundred students who watched respectfully as university officials escorted the friends and families of the deceased – Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace, and Daniel Parmenter. The annual wreath ceremony was held at the Forward, Together Forward Memorial Garden next to Cole Hall.
Five years is a brief moment in time, NIU President John Peters said, but it's a generation on a college campus.
"While they may not realize it, today's students are touched by the presence of those five students, each and every day," Peters said.
Pick up Friday's edition of the Daily Chronicle and visit www.daily-chronicle.com for more coverage from Thursday's ceremony.