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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion University Breaks Ground for Virginia Beach Monarch Memorial

By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University broke ground Friday for the Virginia Beach Monarch Memorial to honor the memory of those killed in the May 31 mass shooting, a step President John R. Broderick said "marks the next phase of our community's healing process."

"With the construction of the memorial, we demonstrate our dedication and commitment to making a difference for the victims' families, the City of Virginia Beach and, yes, our entire region," he added.

The memorial will be unveiled in the spring in Bugg Plaza, between the Batten Arts & Letters Building and the Perry Libraries.

The memorial uses as the central image the sun in the Virginia Beach seal, with 12 rays radiating outward. Coincidentally, that was the number of people who died in Building Two at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

The sun will be represented by a fountain encircled by a border made of ODU bricks, where people can sit in reflection. The spokes extending from the center will have different lengths, corresponding to the number of years each person worked for the city. Six of the rays will be blue, representing the Old Dominion alumni or former students who were killed. The others will be gold. At the end of each ray will stand a concrete marker with the person's name. For Monarchs, the marker will include the degree year and an image of a crown. For others, it will picture a lotus, which is the official flower of Virginia Beach and also represents the cycle of life in some cultures.

"it's been an honor to be given this opportunity to oversee this effort," said Michael Brady, vice president of facilities management and construction at ODU.

The Old Dominion Alumni Association has played a key role and will help finance the memorial.

"This will remind us of how precious life is," said Jennifer Kennan, president of the Alumni Association. "And this memorial will be an everlasting tribute to those victims."

Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer praised ODU's efforts in the nearly five months since the shooting.

"Old Dominion University's support following our tragedy has been nothing short of extraordinary," he said, adding that numerous University alumni were among the first responders. "We thank the students, alumni, administration and staff of Old Dominion University for helping to buttress the citizens of Virginia Beach in our time of desperate need."

Lisa Smith, rector of ODU's Board of Visitors, read the names of the 12 victims - Laquita C. Brown, Ryan Keith Cox, Tara Welch Gallagher, Mary Louise Crustinger Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Joshua O. Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer, Richard H. Nettleton, Katherine A. Lusich-Nixon, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Herbert "Bert" Snelling and Robert "Bobby" Williams.

"It is our hope that this memorial will inspire hope, compassion, understanding and love, casting a beacon of light over the darkest day in the history of Virginia Beach, and helping our community process its grief in a constructive manner," she said. "We believe it will stand as a historical touchstone to commemorate the significant lives that were lost."

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