Students carrying flowers and speaking Japanese flooded in to the Blackwell Auditorium Sunday.
Visitors of many ages and cultures came to the campus of Randolph Macon College to remember a tragic day.
It’s been exactly one year since an earthquake and tsunami changed life in Japan forever.
"Humankind, mankind has never experienced such a combination of disaster," said Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador of Japan to the United States.
The disaster was felt around the world. In Chesterfield Virginia, the parents of 24-year-old Taylor Anderson were told their daughter was the first known American victim. Anderson had been teaching in Japan since 2008.
"I was really looking forward to coming here today and talking about her and about what everyone is doing and celebrating her life because she had a really great life," said Taylor’s father Andy Anderson.
A year after tragedy a fund in Anderson's honor is growing. It’s supporting the goals of college students to live and learn abroad as Anderson did. It also encourages children to read in Japan. Anderson was an avid reader.
"She was living her dream and she hopes those people and those kids would do the same and that would make her happy," said Anderson.
Before a large crowd at Anderson’s alma mater, a touching video depicted her life and impact. Anderson's father spoke of his own healing through efforts to help Japan recover.
"We instantly thought she would want us to help as she would have done," he said.
Fujisaki called Anderson a diplomat, someone who built bridges between people. He claimed more humanitarians like Anderson are needed as Japan heals.
"We are still struggling but one thing I can report to you we are on the recovery road," said Fujisaki.
The memorial fund for Taylor can be found here: www.st.catherines.org/tayloranderson.