Community united by Feb.14 tragedy

Loved+ones+of+the+five+victims+of+the+Feb.+14%2C+2008%2C+shootings+put+roses+on+the+Cole+Hall+memorial+during+the+wreath-laying+ceremony+in+2013.

Loved ones of the five victims of the Feb. 14, 2008, shootings put roses on the Cole Hall memorial during the wreath-laying ceremony in 2013.

This is Part 3 in a five-part series. Read: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The legacy of the Feb. 14, 2008, shooting lives on through ways that cannot be forgotten.

Although most current students were not on campus when the shooting occurred, they, in addition to faculty, staff and local residents, are an important part of remembering the victims’ lives.

The legacy of the shooting stands out to the local community in three important ways. The following three are vital to students, faculty, staff members and local residents because of their prominent visibility.

Cole Hall

The January 2012 reopening of Cole Hall was an important step forward for NIU and DeKalb. Rather than allow Cole Hall to remain closed, the school, with the input of students and the surrounding community, chose to renovate the building. A closed Cole Hall would have made moving on difficult because some think NIU would have been hiding the tragedy.

Cole Hall embodies “Forward, Together Forward.” The decision to reopen the building was made with the input of an entire community and allowed the school to move past its darkest hour while still acknowledging and embracing the memories of the five students whose lives were lost.

The Remembered statue and the Forward, Together Forward Memorial Garden outside Cole Hall ensure they will not be forgotten.

“Forward, together forward” and the scholarship

Students, faculty, staff and local residents have a new interpretation of the 51-year-old fight song. “Forward, Together Forward” is ingrained in those affected by the shooting as a sign of hope.

The legacy also continues in a scholarship offered to students.

“The Forward, Together Forward Scholarship Endowment was created through the generosity of more than 1,770 donors to honor the five Huskies whose lives were lost,” according to NIU.

“Applicants must demonstrate strength of character (as demonstrated through traits such as a strong work ethic, motivation, inspiration, a high regard for others, integrity and/or intellectual curiosity),” along with good academic standing, according to NIU.

Five in the sky

The week of the shooting is not the only time those lost in the shooting are remembered. During the fourth quarter of each football game, fans, the team and coaches raise an open hand to represent “five in the sky” in remembrance of the five lives lost.

From Huskie Stadium to the Poinsettia Bowl, the legacy will always live on.

This Friday won’t be marked by a large ceremony, but many will be thinking of the Feb. 14, 2008, victims.

Each time someone walks by Cole Hall, raises five in the sky or says “forward, together forward,” the memories of those lost are not forgotten.

This is Part 3 in a five-part series. Read: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5