In an emotional and somber ceremony, 15 Buckeyes who died this year were remembered in the Great Hall Meeting Room of the Ohio Union on Tuesday night.

The theme of this year’s Service of Remembrance was “Once a Buckeye, Always a Buckeye,” which was reiterated throughout the night by the event’s speakers.

“We sit in here to know that death is never the end of our story,” said Steven Bell, a priest at the St. Thomas More Newman Center. “Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye is a story that goes through.”

OSU President Michael Drake gave the ceremony’s opening remarks.

“We celebrate arrival in the fall and departure in the spring. Some do not complete that journey, but always remain a part of us,” he said. “They’ve graduated in a different way, in a different time. The memory of those we have lost stays with us forever.”

Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life, said the connection between Buckeyes is not severed by death.

“We never lose that thread and that connectivity. That love stays with us forever,” she said. “Because we are a family of love, they live in our hearts, our minds and our spirits forever.”

The University Interfaith Association helped organize the event and religious verses were shared by fellow students.

Nabeel Alauddin, a second-year in management and information systems, recited a verse from the Quran during the ceremony.

“I took away a sense of solace and comfort and felt a part of something bigger,” Alauddin said of his involvement in the service.

A Judeo-Christian and an Intercessory prayer, which is a prayer on the behalf of others, were also recited at the event.

Roughly 70 people were in attendance. Many were friends and family of the deceased, but several students also attended the service.

Students remembered at this year’s ceremony included: Samuel Amell, Stephanie Fibelkorn, Derek Jahn, John Kuhn, Kostadinos Karageorge, Guanliang Lin, Wei-Yu Lin, John Mitchell, Anthony Molnar, Victoria Muchiri, Aaron Pierfelice, Samirah Shahid, James Shaw, Marc Salopek and Allen Tuazon.

Before the event, families and students stood, smiled and laughed, but when “Carmen Ohio” was played on cello toward the end of the event, many people began to cry. Some guests held on to their loved ones during the song.

“Carmen Ohio” represents a university tradition that ties Buckeyes together, said Karen Kyle, director of the Student Advocacy Center.

“It’s one thing we all share. It’s moving forward. It’s a beginning, not an end and we do it at our most meaningful events, not just joyful ones,” she said.

The 15 deaths this year were “about the average,” Kyle said, and take into account students from all OSU campuses.

“Some years there are less and some are more, but it’s just difficult to accept when it is young life,” she said.

Family, friends and student volunteers lit candles next to rosemary plants, a traditional symbol of remembrance, as Edify, the OSU African-American Voices Gospel Choir, sang at the end of the service.

The ceremony lasted slightly less than an hour, and when it finished, families and friends moved to a reception. Smiles were put on again and the candles were extinguished.

Kyle said the ceremony was organized “to have a moment of reflection to appreciate life (because) there is loss in our community too.”

She said Tuesday’s event was OSU’s 10th Service of Remembrance.