A new memorial for a victim of the Virginia Tech mass shooting is in place 15 years after the terrible tragedy.
Mary Read, who spent her middle and high school years in Annandale, Virginia, was killed in the mass shooting during her freshman year in college April 16, 2007.
A stone path in Canterbury Woods Park leads to the memorial honoring Read. Signs bearing the “Never Forget” promise circle the site.
The memorial is near the tight-knit neighborhood Read called home.
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“What’s really touching, and what I really can’t put into words is the amount of love that the community has put into it,” said her father, Peter Read.
Mary Read was a top student, clarinet player and color guard member at Annandale High School who planned to become a teacher when she enrolled at Virginia Tech.
“A beautiful soul who gave everything she had at such a young age to other people,” said Steve Miller, whose daughter went to school with Read at Annandale High and Virginia Tech. “Her love, her kindness, her Atoms and Hokie spirit just stood out.”
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Miller helped spearhead the effort to rebuild the memorial after its original location became soggy from floodwaters.
Miller and others pushed for months to get the project approved, getting the green light only a week ago. The new memorial is ready in time for Saturday’s commemoration.
“We will never forget, and that’s extremely important for everybody to understand that,” Miller said.
Peter Read said he’s especially struck by the fact that the rebuilding project drew in many who didn’t even live there 15 years ago and never knew his daughter.
“It’s just been astonishing to me how much that her spirit has touched so many people in so many different ways,” he said.
He said with so much conflict in the world, reflecting on his daughter’s legacy is more important than ever before.
“We’re in a time now when we are so desperately in need of reminders of what Mary stood for,” he said. “Her scholarship at Annandale is about leading with care and compassion and kindness.”
He hopes those who visit the memorial will both remember his daughter and be inspired to show kindness toward others.
A rededication ceremony will be held Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Read family is about to have a second Hokie in the family. Mary Read’s brother is headed there in the fall after winning a Navy ROTC scholarship.