VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Hundreds of people gathered at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach on Thursday morning for a memorial service to honor those who lost their lives on May 31
City offices closed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to allow employees to attend the memorial.
They opened with a pipes and drums procession, followed by a welcome speech from Virginia Beach Fire Battalion Chief Lorna Trent and Virginia Beach Police’s Lt. W. Scott Humphrey. Next, a presentation of colors from the fire department, the sheriff’s office and the police department’s honor guards.
City Manager Dave Hanson gave the opening remarks.
“These are times that can shake our faith,” said Hansen. “And cause us to question if we will ever find a way to live with our loss and grief.”
Each of the victims families or representatives from the families took to the podium to share messages and stories about the victims. The stories highlighted the humanity of what this community and those families lost.
From Tara Gallagher’s family: “she applied engineering principles to every aspect of raising her son. She researched the safest child seats. She was incessant with toddler proofing their home.”
And Pastor Ray Cox Sr. had this to say about his son Keith, whose heroic actions that day saved lives, at the cost of his own.
“I thank God that my son left this life, acting in death the same way he acted in life,” said Cox. “He was caring, he was concerned and very much involved in rushing into harms way to try to save others. Had he remained in that room like they tried to get him to do, he’d maybe be alive today. But there was no way he could have remained in the room. That’s not what his mission was that day.”
Organizers also played a video message from Pharrell Williams, which said in part: “Even for those who did not know these heroes personally, they are all in our minds. At home, as we drive to work, when we embrace our friends and neighbors we are thinking about them, their families and the community of Virginia Beach.”