By Michelle Durham
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An arresting visual display was attracting attention today on the campus of Villanova University, where students and faculty members put together a memorial to last year’s victims of gun violence in Philadelphia.
Villanova students couldn’t help but pause at the hundreds of t-shirts comprising the “Memorial to the Lost” — 288 shirts representing those who died from gunfire in Philadelphia in 2012, plus an additional 26 for those who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
Kathryn Getek Soltis, director of the Center For Peace and Justice Education at Villanova, said she hopes it has a profound impact on all who see it.
“What is striking is that the suffering is not just these numbers lost but the hundreds of thousands more who have been touched by the lives of these people and who miss them. And that this is preventable,” she said.
It’s finals time, but senior communications major Grace Cipressi was helping to hammer crosses into the ground and hanging each with a t-shirt bearing the name and age of a victim.
“It’s just very harrowing because I keep getting t-shirts to put on the crosses and I keep thinking we must be done soon, and then I go into the pile and there is even more to get. It just keeps coming,” she said.
The quiet rally, joined by members of the local activist group “Heeding God’s Call,” ended with a short prayer service.
There will be another event on Saturday, as former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and families of gun violence victims will gather for a program and candlelight vigil.
Saturday December 7th
Connelly Cinema on the Campus of Villanova University
1:30pm: Networking and Education
2 to 4pm: Program
Candlelight vigil immediately following.