Friends of Bassel Shahade found comfort in one another Monday night outside of Hendricks chapel on the Syracuse University campus.
In a small remembrance ceremony, they paid tribute to a passionate young man who they say died making a difference.
"He was in love with life," said his friend Mireille Bakhos. "He wanted to change the world."
Shahade saw a chance for change in his native country of Syria, so he returned as a citizen journalist to report on the escalating violence there when he was tragically caught in the crossfire last month.
Monday night, his friends sat on the steps of the chapel holding roses, his picture and candles. They sat quietly but their message was loud and clear, to end the senseless violence in Syria.
"He's our hero because he's our friend," said Lana Meiqari. "At least we can do something good in his memory."
Shahade spent one semester at SU and was a Fulbright Scholar. He decided to go back home to Syria over christmas break.
SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor wrote, in part: "This is a terrible tragedy for Basselâ??s family and friends in Syria and for all his fellow students, faculty and friends here in Syracuse who knew him. His death is also a tragedy for the Syrian people, who have suffered many months of tragic violence as they seek greater freedom for their nation."
"He went back because for him, the freedom of Syria is more important than his life. He lived as a hero and died as a hero," said Bakhos.