Before the next mass shooting — yes, sadly there will be more — displaces all accounts of the newsroom murders at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., from front pages across America, it is a …
Before the next mass shooting — yes, sadly there will be more — displaces all accounts of the newsroom murders at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., from front pages across America, it is a moral mandate to remember the deceased.
It is just as important to see their faces and to read their names, not just because they died for a cause, but because — like most — they had families.
They had people who loved them.
They were husbands. They were wives. They were brothers. They were sisters. They were grandparents. They were somebody’s son. They were somebody’s daughter.
They graduated high school with classmates who shared a common dream. They envisioned being a part of the future. They wanted to make a difference. They knew the world could be a better place; all it needed was someone to show the way.
They reflected on their college days, how they riled the university president with investigative stories in the student newspaper on why the college was clamping down on freedom of speech and how the student body would not allow it.
They believed in the good though their work often surrounded them by the bad. They went to church. They loved family reunions. They talked about the latest movies over a morning cup of coffee. They groaned over their team’s latest loss.
They attended their kids’ ballgames. They gloated over their little girl’s performance at the recital.
They cooked. They cleaned. They washed the car. They paid bills at the kitchen table. They mowed the grass. They had friends. They made new friends. They missed old friends.
They adored pretty flowers though they had little time to smell the roses. They gardened. They loved a tomato sandwich smothered in mayonnaise. They ate popcorn at midnight. They tossed and turned long after bedtime, unable to calm their thoughts and quiet their minds from stresses of the coming morn.
They grew fatigued from long hours in the newsroom. They wondered what their abnormal life could be like if they were normal people who worked normal jobs in a normal lifestyle that included dreaded Monday mornings, beloved Friday afternoons and two-day weekends.
They flicked on the office lights in the wee hours of holiday mornings long before most people rolled over in bed for the first time. They were the first to the coffee pot and the last to empty its grounds.
They didn’t make a lot of money, but they were thankful for what they had. They rented apartments and sometimes a duplex. The lucky ones bought a house, married a high school sweetheart or a college study partner, and raised two kids; at least one who wanted to be a writer.
They didn’t take fancy vacations, but they loved the beach. They traveled when the job demanded it and stayed home when time allowed. They watched CNN by night, rushed to make appointments by day, and never really knew when one ended and the other began.
They laughed. They cried. They talked on the phone. They drove distracted. They talked to themselves because they were often alone. They pounded keyboards, cursed computers and mumbled threats to walk out the door and to never return.
They were people. They were like you and me. They thought like us. They reasoned like us. They wanted what we wanted. They liked what we liked. They loved what we loved. They grew angry at what angered us. They smiled at what made us smile.
Their beliefs were not unlike the beliefs of parishioners at an historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C.
Their need for downtime was not so different from a group of moviegoers in Aurora, Colo.
Their love of music and their delight in outdoor entertainment was not far removed from a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas.
Their vision for the future ran parallel to eager students on a college campus in Blacksburg, Va., who wanted nothing more than what a new day could bring.
Their memories of childhood stirred the waters of time just like the imaginations of little 6- and 7-year-olds at a school in Newtown, Conn.
Their commitment to the future and their hope for tomorrow’s promise came as no stranger to a watchful world, just like the teens who walked the hallways of schools in Littleton, Colo., Red Lake, Minn., and Parkland, Fla.
Their stories were our stories. Their lives were our lives. Their past is our present.
They are us.
We are them.
Godspeed in your race to new deadlines: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.
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