· Gilroy, California, July 28, 4 deaths, including the gunman, and 13 injuries.
· Dayton, Ohio, August 4, 9 killed and 27 injured.
· El Paso, Texas, August 3, 22 killed, 24 injured.
· Chicago, Illinois, 7 Killed, 46 Wounded in weekend shootings.
As I watched the news this past week and saw the details of the above incidents unfolding, I was struck by an almost overwhelming feeling of gloom. 42 mothers, brothers, fathers, sons, and daughters were murdered, and 110 others are scarred for life. In addition, untold thousands, like me, have been impacted. I have ties to El Paso, Dayton and Chicago.
I lived in Las Cruces, NM for several years. Las Cruces is just north of El Paso. My Mom and I spent a lot of time there, and in Juarez, shopping. My sister lived and worked there for a while and my niece was born there (William Beaumont Army Medical Center). I’ve been back to visit a couple of times and taught some classes for the Border patrol there as well. I love that area.
My mom’s brother and his wife (Uncle Bud and Aunt Corrine) used to live in Dayton and we visited there on vacation a couple of times when I was little. Ties not as strong there but, ties nonetheless.
I have several close friends – I worked with them on the police department for many years and still stay in contact – who grew up there before they joined the Army, became Rangers and wound up in Savannah.
Sadly, I have no ties to Gilroy.
I was wondering how many others have ties to these areas. I’d wager thousands. I wondered how many were having similar thoughts. I think we all had a similar state of mind after 9/11. I have ties to NY as well … I was born there and all my dad’s family lived there.
This past Sunday, the day after the El Paso shootings, my wife and I had to go to our local WalMart. As we walked through the store, I was struck by the normalcy of all the people there. As we were walking, I couldn’t help but think this was exactly what everyone was doing the day before – shopping for school supplies, a new lamp, and groceries. I actually stopped, turned and looked over my shoulder. I’m not the paranoid type but, I couldn’t help but think, “If only someone had seen the shooter before …”.
But, no one did. We don’t know how many, if any, folks may have been armed in Texas or Ohio, And, if they were, why they didn’t try to stop the shooter. I’m sure there will be many stories of individuals who stepped up and helped others escape or rendered aid to those who were injured.
A friend called and asked my opinion as to what I thought may have caused these incidents – he said he had been at WalMart on Saturday and at church on Sunday; places where there have been mass murders in the recent past. It made him pause. My response included the degradation of Judeo/Christian ethos, the dissolution of family values, the absence of positive role models, and the fact there are minimal consequences when bad choices are made. But, the main point I made was that there are just evil people in the world who will injure and kill for no reason other than they can. Manifestos aside, these individuals are just pure evil.
After 9/11, there was much discussion of what we should do. Do we cower and put armed guards on every corner? Do we stop going out to dinner with friends? Do we stop going to the mall? Do we change our lives and live in fear? The large majority of commentators recommended that if we change because of fear then the terrorists win. They were right. If we change the way we live out of fear, these misguided souls win.
So, what do we do? We prepare the best we can. We educate ourselves and our families about what to do in these situations. We form a plan and we exercise it when we can. But, most importantly, we live our lives. We mourn for all those who lost loved ones or who were injured, we pray, and we move on.
This is in memoriam for all the victims in El Paso, Dayton, Gilroy and Chicago. Rest in Peace.