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Promising, extraordinary lives cut short

Story Highlights

• Bush: "People you've never met are praying for you"
• Students dressed in the school's maroon and orange colors for ceremony
• Convocation ended with "Let's go Hokies!" chant
• Go "where you can get the best hugs," school official urges
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BLACKSBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- Reema Samaha was a beautiful, creative dancer. Ryan "Stack" Clark went out of his way to make new band members feel welcome. Daniel Perez Cueva spoke four languages and hoped to change the world.

As the world learned more about the 32 victims of Monday's shootings on the Virginia Tech campus, students and faculty, family and friends mourned their loss.

Joseph Samaha said he and his wife watched their daughter, Reema, perform in a dance event over the weekend and said goodbye to her Sunday night. (Profiles of shooting victims)

"We were to come back next weekend for another event, but unfortunately that's not going to happen," he said.

Samaha said he became more and more worried Monday when he couldn't reach his daughter on her cell phone. (Watch Reema's father describe his search Video)

Later, he learned that she was killed in Norris Hall.

Ryan Clark, a senior from Martinez, Georgia, was one of two students killed in West Ambler Johnston Hall.

Clark was a member of the Marching Virginians band. A freshman band member said Clark invited him everywhere on a recent trip.

Clark's twin brother, Bryan, said the family is devastated, but they know he is in a better place. (Watch Clark's twin brother and sister discuss their loss)

Daniel Perez Cueva died in French class. He came to the United States from Peru in 2000 and decided to study international relations after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

His best friend, Megan Mirmelstein, said he was considering studying international law and hoped to intern at the French embassy.

"He was an amazing person," Mirmelstein said. "He was really dedicated, he was in the honor society here and had just become a Hokie Ambassador."

Perez's father is still in Peru and may not be able to get into the United States for the funeral. (Watch why Perez hoped to save the world)

'We are Virginia Tech'

Thousands of people gathered Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil at the heart of the campus. (Watch students gather to remember their classmates Video)

Earlier, students and staff filled the 10,000 seat Cassell Coliseum for an emotional prayer service that ended with a show of unity and chants of "Let's go Hokies!"

Poet Nikki Giovanni, the final speaker at the prayer service, delivered a rousing speech and then raised her arms to encourage the chanting crowd. (Watch Giovanni stir the crowd with a cry of 'we will prevail' Video)

"We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while," said Giovanni, an English professor at the southwestern Virginia university. "We are not moving on. We are embracing our mourning. We are Virginia Tech," she said. "We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly. We are brave enough to bend to cry, and sad enough to know we must laugh again."

President Bush offered his condolences and expressed the nation's sympathy during his brief address at the service. (Watch President Bush offer the country's prayers Video)

"Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow," he said. "This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community. And it is a day of sadness for our entire nation."

Bush told the audience that the Virginia Tech family would not have to suffer alone, and that "people who have never met you are praying for you."

"I know many of you feel awfully far away from people you lean on, people you count on during difficult times. But as a dad, I can assure you, a parent's love is never far from their child's heart," Bush said. "And as you draw closer to your own families in the coming days, I ask you to reach out to those who ache for sons and daughters who will never come home."

"On this terrible day of mourning, it's hard to imagine a time will come when life at Virginia Tech will return to normal," Bush said. "But such a day will come -- and when it does, you will always remember the friends and teachers who were lost yesterday, the time you shared with them and the lives they hoped to lead." (Watch professor's mother mourn 'brilliant' son Video)

After the ceremony, Bush reached up to clasp hands with mourners as he left the arena. Bush and first lady Laura Bush met with about 50 relatives of the victims and one wounded survivor, Derek O'Dell. Bush appeared teary as he shook hands with everyone, hugging most of them as well.

Bush, University President Charles Steger, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and a parade of religious leaders offered words of comfort to the school community during Tuesday afternoon's ceremony.

Students gave a prolonged standing ovation to Steger. He and other university officials are already under fire for their handling of Monday's slaughter -- particularly a two-hour delay in notifying students of the first two killings, which took place at a dormitory across campus from the building where the rest of the slayings occurred. (Watch Steger describe the international outpouring that 'reaffirmed our basic belief in the goodness of people') Video

Doctor: Gunman was brutal

Monday's shooting rampage was the deadliest in the history of the United States. Police identified the gunman responsible as Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old English major from South Korea. Cho shot himself as police closed in on him amid the carnage of Norris Hall, the building where most of the killings took place.

The two shooting deaths earlier in the day are also believed to be the work of Cho, but authorities would not declare that definitively Tuesday. (Shooter's writing dripped with anger)

More than a dozen wounded survivors remained hospitalized Tuesday afternoon.

A doctor at a Blacksburg hospital described the injuries he saw Monday as "amazing" and the shooter as "brutal." "There wasn't a shooting victim that didn't have less than three bullet wounds in them," said Dr. Joseph Cacioppo of Montgomery Regional Hospital. (Doctor: "This man was brutal")

The university has canceled classes until Monday, but Tom Brown, the senior associate dean of students, said students should not worry about academics right now. (Watch students remember their fallen friends Video)

Brown said that counselors would be available and that "We will try very hard to make this large institution feel as small to you as we possibly can."

"Please, please take care of yourself first. You cannot get your mind back on academics without spending some time taking care of yourselves," he said. "Go to where you need to go where you have the most love and the best support and I often say, where you can get the best hugs."

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Thousands of students gather for a candlelight vigil on Tuesday for the victims of Monday's shootings at Virginia Tech.



• Concerned parents should call the dean of students' office at 540-231-3787.
• Anyone with information about the shootings should call the Virginia Tech Police Department at 540-232-8477.
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