City of Virginia Beach Plans for 5/31 Remembrance

Check Out Acting City Manager Tom Leahy's Speech

May 18, 2020
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On May 15th, the Acting City Manager Tom Leahy shared the remembrance plan to honor the victims and their families of the Virginia Beach shooting on May 31. Click here to watch the speech. Read below to read the transcript of it.


City of Virginia Beach Plans for 5/31 Remembrance Acting City Manager Tom Leahy May 15, 2020

"Hello, I’m Tom Leahy. Right now, I’m the acting city manager but for most of my 40 years with the City of Virginia Beach, I worked in Public Utilities. From 2003 to 2015, I was the director of that department. I was honored to work with and get to know many of the people we lost a year ago. Some I knew for decades, some for years, and some for just a few months. I think of them often, but this is an especially meaningful time for me as I know it is for you. As we approach May 31, I want to share additional details of the plans we have developed to honor the victims and their families, as well as every one of us who carries the scars of that day. We had plans for a ceremony and other special events to observe this day. And then, COVID-19 happened. So, we had to adapt and create ways we could memorialize the day without compelling anyone to leave home or gather together. This was a challenge, but with the input from many of you and family members too, we created: “Lighting the Path: Together We Remember”. Great care has been taken to include a variety of activities that allow each of us to remember and reflect in our own way and our own time. Individually, the different activities each have meaning. Taken together, we hope you will see we have created a full program while recognizing the realities of the pandemic. First, I want to introduce to you the special symbol we developed to represent our remembrance, the “Forget-Me-Not” flower. In general, this flower symbolizes remembrance and love. We have adapted it, creating our own version that features elements representing the 17 victims and the community that surrounds them. There are 12 outer petals to represent those we lost. The four inner petals represent those who were seriously injured. The blue dot in the middle is for the police officer who was shot and fortunately, saved by his vest. The gold outline represents the community who has come together in support and solidarity. You will see this symbol throughout the material created for the one-year mark activities – from a banner that will hang on Building 2, to a re-creation on the side of Mount Trashmore. You will also see it on the new memorial website that will go live today – This site has been redesigned to serve as a sustainable tribute to the colleagues we lost a year ago. It is still a work in progress and will continue to evolve over time, but there you will find more details about what we have planned for that weekend, including several activities designed for you and your neighbors to do at home. I hope you will visit the site to learn more. On Friday, May 29, we will allow the four Building 2 departments to close at 2 PM so that employees from those departments may reflect upon and memorialize that afternoon in the manner and location of their choosing. Subject to maintaining mission-critical services and with supervisory approval, liberal leave will also be in effect for that day for anyone who needs to take off. Also on that day, we will ask people to observe a moment of silence from wherever they are at 4:06 PM. A remembrance installation, made up of mostly flowers designed by staff from Landscape Services and Cultural Affairs, will be created at Building 2. There will also be lighting effects that will honor those who were lost for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. On Sunday, May 31, we will launch a prerecorded virtual ceremony at 4:06 PM. You will be able to see it on, VBTV, and the City’s YouTube channel. As part of that ceremony, a special program will be introduced that will encourage us to remember the victims and support each other throughout the year. I know this is a very difficult time. On top of everything else we have to deal with now, reflecting on the worst day in the history of Virginia Beach seems even more daunting. Still, if I’ve learned anything in my four decades with this city, it is this – we persevere. We get stronger. And we continue to put one foot in front of the other, even when that feels almost impossible. But the journey we have taken in the last year is a testament to our strength and our resolve. Please continue to support and take care of each other. Thank you, and stay well."