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In Virginia Tech tragedy, a pulling together

In the midst of the worst mass shooting in US history, 'a number of heroic events' occurred.

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The university's emergency human resources plan is in place to deal with the deaths of faculty and students. But most of that plan was used to initiate an unprecedented call to state agencies and counseling centers throughout Virginia.

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All across campus, meanwhile, students wiped away tears, spoke in hushed tones, and came together in small groups for small vigils. Several hundred Virginia Tech military cadets raised the campus flag to half staff Tuesday morning and then huddled in a prayer circle. "We draw strength from each other," says a sophomore cadet.

The religious community on campus also came together. About 50 people attended a vigil at the Church of Christ Monday. "We tried to make sure that everyone we could think of was OK. We're still trying to find ways we can help, other than prayer and counseling," says Seth Terrell, a campus minister with the Church of Christ.

Some students decided to leave campus after the tragedy, while others explained why they chose to stay.

"This is a small-town campus, and you do feel safe here," says Amy Adams, a university employee, who works in the human resources department. "There's no way to be prepared for something like this or even to accept it."

A convocation planned for Tuesday afternoon will be the first campus-wide vigil, and President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush are expected to attend. The tragedy, President Bush said Monday "impacted every American classroom and every American community."

The service would be the first of many campus-wide opportunities to "share our collective soul," said President Steger. As the campus "continues to struggle with these horrible deaths, [we will take] steps in the following days [to] help that healing process."

Students have been turning to digital "grief walls" such as to display their solidarity and send messages as well as try to find people who had gone missing, grief experts say. Students from as far away as Nanjing Normal College in China wrote with condolences.

"There are no words, just tears. Mine along with yours," wrote "Nancy" on the "wall" at

In the village of Karattdipalayam, India, family members of slain professor Vasudevan Loganathan started working with the State Department to get expedited visas to bring the body home, where he will be buried according to village tradition. "It's hard to get a sense of the enormity of what's happened," says one father of a freshman student, who did not want to give his name. "You get the sense that the students want to stay together. Life will go on, but it won't be the same."

[Editor's note: The original version reversed two photos' credits.]