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Five years to the day after a mentally ill student gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech, the university held classes for the first time on the anniversary of that event.

Officials said resuming classes on the anniversary of the April 16, 2007, rampage was another way to honor the students and faculty who perished that day.

Freshman Jessie McNamara wasn’t on campus at the time, but remembered the moment the shooting occurred. Two girls from her high school were victims.

“It was really hard, but we got through it,” she said, her voice choking with emotion.

Virginia Tech Shooting Anniversary

Though she thinks of the shooting every time she passes the April 16 Memorial on the VT campus, the freshman said she feels secure at the school.

“I feel 100 percent safe,” she said, adding that anniversary events such as vigils reinforce the huge community support system available to students.

Virginia Tech also marked the five-year anniversary at midnight this morning with the lighting of a ceremonial candle that will remain lit for 24 hours.

Members of the university’s Corps of Cadets stood guard at the candle for 32 minutes and will do so again Monday night before it is extinguished.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is scheduled to speak at a commemoration and candlelight vigil on Monday night at the campus in Blacksburg, Va.