DEKALB - Valentine's Day has
a bit of a sad connotation on the campus of
Even though class was in session as usual, even inside Cole Hall, bells tolled at 3:05 PM on Thursday, the same time five years ago that Stephen Kazmierczak opened fire with semi-automatic weapons inside a lecture auditorium at Cole Hall. Amid tolling bells, relatives of students taken too soon laid wreaths at their memorials right outside the building they were gunned down inside.
"While they may not realize it, today's students are touched by the presence of those five students each and every day," said Peters.
Theresa Smith is one of those students that say she's been touched by those five students. Even though Smith wasn't there when the shootings took place or had a personal connection to any of the students, she laid flowers at the memorials of the five students.
"I just feel like it's my job to kind of help everyone remember, even if it is just a few flowers," said Smith. "Something to keep their memory alive and know that they're not forgotten."
Countless other students, also with no connection to the tragedies at Northern five years ago, lined up to pay their respects as well.
"I've come out here every year for the past three years that I've been at NIU," said Brandon Grosz, senior in corporate communication.
"It's one of those things where you have to come out here if you're a Huskie because we're all Huskie Family here, fallen or not."
Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) was in attendance as well on Thursday. Most of his speech touched on the personal stories of the fallen. No mention of his support of a proposed assault weapons ban, but the governor did speak to the importance of mental health when he referenced fallen student Ryanne Mace.
"She was a psychology major and she understood that mental health is very important to the health of all of us," said Quinn.
"I think as we talk on this bittersweet day, this profoundly sad day, in many respects we have to remember that part of our mission, the living, is not only to remember those who have given their lives for all of us but never forget the importance of going forward in life with the important things that we can do forward in order to help our community."
Smith, who will
graduate this year, received her admittance to
"More so, it made me want to go to Northern more just because of the outpouring of the community and there was this sort of family that was built from it and I think that kind of swayed me to come here even more," said Smith.