( dpa ) - With moments of silence, a lie-in on the campus lawn, ringing bells and speeches, Virginia Polytechnic University Wednesday remembered the heinous day a year ago when a crazed student killed 32 people.
In the worst mass shooting in US history, the mentally deranged student, Cho Seung Hui, a South Korean immigrant, went on a shooting spree on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg on April 16, 2007, killing 32 faculty and students before turning the gun on himself.
Another 22 students were seriously injured.
Speaking at a memorial service in Blacksburg, Virginia, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine said that families who had not gone through losing a loved one in such a manner could only "glimpse in the relations with our own loved ones just how devastating this last year has been for these 32 families."
"They have borne the sorrow with grace and courage," he said. "They have endeavoured to work so that the sorrow and pain they feel can be part of an effort to make us stronger and better and safer."
US President George W Bush praised the Virginia Tech community for its strength and said he and first lady Laura were praying for the victims.
"The horrific crimes committed at Virginia Tech University filled our souls with sadness," Bush said in a statement. "One year later, we remember the victims murdered and wounded that day."
Senator Hillary Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said her thoughts were with the "families and friends mourning the absence of loved ones."
"Let us work to build a nation in which all of our children are safe and loved," she said in a statement.
A state panel charged with investigating the deadly shootings issued a report in August 2007 sharply criticizing the university and state institutions for failing to address the apparently long- standing mental health issues of the campus shooter.
The report, commissioned by Kaine days after the shooting, detailed a history of mental illness that was well-known and dealt with by Cho's family and high school, but which was not passed on to Virginia Tech authorities when he first enrolled.
That history, and a series of warning-bells raised by students and faculty during his time on campus, should have alerted the university to pay special attention to Cho's behaviour. Yet the university and state counselling services failed to follow up with Cho, even after a court in December 2005 ordered him to undergo out-patient mental health treatment.
None of Cho's mental health issues, including a court order that he receive treatment, prevented Cho from buying the two handguns he used in the killing spree.
The report also faulted university authorities for not issuing a campus-wide alert after Cho killed two students in a college dormitory. It was two hours after the dorm shooting that Cho entered an academic building half-way across campus and opened fire in four classrooms.
Much has changed on the campus, according to the chief editor of the student newspaper. Earlier this week, Amie Steele, a 22-year- senior, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that students now "sit away from the door because most of the people killed last year were near the doorway."
She said that showing up late for class will get the attention of jittery students, who turn their heads wondering why the door has opened.