NIU wreath ceremony honors memory of fallen students - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

NIU day of reflection honors memory of fallen students

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Scott Peska Scott Peska

By Bob Schaper

DEKALB (WREX) - Two years after a senseless act of violence the Northern Illinois University community comes together for support. On this day in 2008 a man shot and killed five NIU students in a Cole Hall auditorium.

Today just a few feet from the lecture hall over a thousand people formed a procession to honor the victim's memories, and to help each other move forward together.

"We've gathered today to remember and reflect, to meditate, to contemplate, and to carefully consider a joint journey that began two years ago," said NIU President John Peters.

Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Grant, Ryanne Mace and Daniel Parmenter were remembered in a quiet ceremony near the memorial garden that carries their names. Peters said each student carried a unique lesson for the rest of us.

Dubowski's desire to put others first; Garcia's optimism and positive attitude; Grant's determination in pursuing her dreams; Mace's ability to comfort and care for those around her; and Parmenter's hardworking and adventurous nature.

"I'm hoping that the families are healing," NIU student Carrie Fassbinder. "I'm hoping this will help them move on."

Scott Peska knows hard that can be. His full-time job at the school is to provide support for the families of the deceased.

"They all have a different response, emotional response to this, and so even families I've seen the mother and the father having a very different response, husband and wife having a very different response to that," he said.

And even those who didn't lose friends or family on that day say they were deeply affected.

Following the afternoon ceremony, not long after the sunset, students gathered again to light candles and say goodbye.

"Two years later the lights of five Huskies still burn brightly on this campus..." Peters said.

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