BY VENI FIELDS
VIRGINIA BEACH — While an official city memorial to the victims of the Friday, May 31, mass shooting at the municipal center will be held at a date to be announced, a major community gathering will be held this evening at Rock Church.
VB Remembers, a nondenominational event that will feature people from multiple faiths, was put together by a committee headed by City Councilmembers Jessica Abbott, who represents the Kempsville District, and Michael Berlucchi, who represents the Rose Hall District. It will be hosted at 7:30 p.m., today, at Rock Church, 640 Kempsville Road.
The event can be watched online via loveforvb.com, with the feed to begin at about 7:15 p.m., according to the city. If you join before it starts, the city recommends refreshing your browser until it begins.
“There’s a sense from many people that they want to be together,” Berlucchi said during a telephone interview. “They want to embrace each other, even your neighbors who you don’t know. We have shared this tragedy, and we want to comfort each other through this tragedy.”
The Thursday night event will be attended by local and state officials, Berlucchi said, with confirmed speakers including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer and Vice Mayor James Wood.
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are expected to attend, but they will not speaking at the gathering, Berlucchi said.
Along with speakers from diverse faith community leadership, musical performances will also be presented, Berlucchi said, “that will represent the stage and cultural diversity that exists in Virginia Beach.”
The location was chosen for its size, Berlucchi said, and because event committee members felt it was important to not place an additional burden on city employees. The gathering is expected to last about an hour and a half, he said.
“It’s an important part of the healing process,” Berlucchi said. “We want to know that our community, political and faith leaders are there walking through it with us and I think that’s going to be on view.”
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