The first memorial event in the convocation center attracted hundreds of parents, students and administrators. They gathered not only to honor those who died, but also to honor the survivors who carry on with the memories of that day.
A candlelight vigil for the victims of last year's shooting was set for Saturday evening, after a memorial service in the morning.
Some students who knew the victims said Saturday's events were bringing them closure.
"This above all else is what it means to be a Husky," NIU Pres. John Peters told those gathered.
Peters was speaking to approximately 2,500 people in the university's convocation center, including some family members of the five victims who lost their lives.
Many other people also knew those who were killed or injured by Steven Kazmierczak's Valentine's Day rampage.
"I remember her smile. She was always so hyper and a little mischevious," Courtney Roy said of
Best friends of 20-year-old-victim Gale Dubowski held flowers in her memory as they left the service.
"She'd be happy with how it went, how she was being honored, and how everyone was gathering together," said David Perritt.
Christian Hollis was attended the service to remember 20-year-old Daniel Parmenter, who tried to get Hollis to pledge in his fraternity.
"He was so willing to help. He was just there. A very warm-hearted individual," Holllis said.
On the one-year anniversary of the killings, students speaking with ABC7 Chicago said they felt safe. NIU beefed up its police training and staffing. They also added new ways of communication in an emergency, such as texting.
"We are becoming more safety conscious and being sure everything is right and taking an extra look around and know where the exits are," said student Jason Cruikshank.
Saturday afternoon, Gov. Pat Quinn and NIU's president joined together in a walk to the shooting scene, Cole Hall. They placed wreaths in front a future site for a memorial.
"I think you could almost hear through the wind and the water flowing that the spirits of these five young students are still with us," Governor Quinn said.
"I anticipated being really choked up and really sad the entire day. And in reality, there's been some happy things that have come out of this day. A lot of these people we never would have met," said Eric Mace, the father of slain student Ryanne Mace.
As for the future of Cole Hall, a spokesperson says it will remained closed for a while. When there is more money, university officials will have the atrium remodeled and use the classroom where the shootings occurred as storage or office space.