- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2007

ROANOKE — Virginia Tech will replace the temporary memorials on the campus lawn with 32 stones engraved with the names of those killed by a student gunman, officials said yesterday.

Small stones of the local gray limestone that distinguishes the university’s buildings were placed in a semicircle near the administration building by student group Hokies United immediately after Seung-hui Cho fatally shot 27 students and five faculty members April 16. Each is marked now with only a piece of paper bearing a victim’s name.

The stones will be offered to victims’ families, school President Charles Steger said.

The new stones will be an intermediate memorial while officials look for a permanent site elsewhere on the Blacksburg campus. Each will weigh 300 pounds and will have beveled edges and an angled top for the name inscription, university spokesman Larry Hincker said.

A committee of staff and students as well as an alumnus and a board member considered “every possible option for location and design,” but decided the students’ original memorial “will most help the healing as we proceed with the next step,” Mr. Steger said.

A dirt path has been worn in front of the stones where visitors have left flowers, handwritten notes, trinkets and lighted candles as remembrances. Earlier this week, the mementos included several coins atop each stone.

The ring includes a 33rd stone that at first listed Cho’s name but in recent weeks has borne no identification. The stone, which a student anonymously placed for Cho, disappeared briefly but was replaced.

Mr. Hincker said that stone will be offered to Cho’s family, but there will be no space for a 33rd in the new memorial.

The markers will be embedded in an arc of crushed gravel and surrounded by a paved walking path with landscaping behind them. Construction will begin immediately, Mr. Steger said, and should be completed by the time students return in August.