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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Main Street, Columbia, Maryland

I walked around, visited Godiva and Wockenfuss taking time to smell the chocolate.  Bought a charm or two at Pandora, smiled at all I met, ran into a few friends and chatted, and signed the condolence book for the families of the lives lost there on Saturday.  A few stores are not yet opened; it was not crowded.  Some took photos of the notices of condolence on the boarded-up Zumiez Skatestore, where the shootings occurred.  There is a heavy police presence and a strong sense of sadness.

It seems the Mall personnel had been schooled in the potentiality of this happening.  As soon as shots were heard some customers chose to run, but store personnel grabbed as many Mall patrons as possible, directed them to storage spaces at the backs of the stores, and pulled down security gates. Some children were separated from their parents and other adults comforted them.   Personnel like those at the Disney Store and Cartoon Cuts actually involved the children in games:  playing bubbles and watching videos as they "sheltered in place" and waited for police to secure this very large mall and come and get them.  It took police and SWAT teams about four hours to totally secure the Mall.  They exited shoppers and workers store by store, telling the adults to cover the eyes of the children as they passed by Zumiez.

An author of an article about the shooting said, "How the shooting will define the city itself, known for its affluence and its founding in the 1960s by developer James Rouse as a planned suburban community infused with neighborly values, has yet to be determined."   

Columbia is a place that defines itself by the kindness and tolerance of its residents, not by a single incident that came from without, not within our community.  This is the same integrated community that allowed George Wallace to speak to its then 300 residents with the stated understanding that he was being allowed to speak because of the tolerance of this then nascent town.  This is the same community in which children can grow up color-blind and where all religions and backgrounds are celebrated.  This heinous act will not define us; not now; not ever.

7 comments:

Linda Reeder said...

Of course it won't define your city. But that may be because it just wasn't a big enough tragedy. Our news media hype tragedies for profit these days, and the bigger the better.
That said, all deaths are tragedies to someone. Our local news if full of shootings and car crashes and fires and and child abuse. There is evil everywhere.

Kay said...

It seems these shootings are becoming more and more common place these days. Lawmakers are giving up on gun control because no matter how many people are killed, the NRA and Republican party are not willing to allow the enactment of laws to curb guns in America. We also need more money to go toward better mental health treatment. Sigh... I'm feeling so pessimistic.

forsythia said...

What amazes me is the description of the weapon sold by the gunstore owner: a weapon designed for home defense, accurate in its aim, but not powerful enough to go through the victim and into the wall and through that to kill/injure anyone in an adjacent room. It seems as if the whole society is mentally ill.

Retired English Teacher said...

Kathy, thanks for writing this powerful post. I add my condolences to all of you in this town. When one is hurt, all are hurt. I am so impressed by the actions of the mall employees. I wish we would have seen more of these stories in the news.

Gilly said...

As I read your blog, I too was impressed by the actions of the Mall employees. Very sensible, quick and thoughtful in the midst of a terrifying situation. As I am from the UK I don't feel I have any right to comment on your gun laws. So I won't!! But you can probably guess them!

Mage said...

These shootings seem to foreign to me. Maybe what's left of me lives in another, kinder world.

Betsy Adams said...

Unfortunately, there are bad people all over the country --even in those wonderful communities who are peace-loving and tolerant.

Seems as if this has gotten so much worse just the past few years... There's so much anger out there (from out-of-control kids to road rage to family problems, etc)... This country desperately needs to change back to the hard-working, family-loving country our forefathers worked so hard to give us.

Hugs,
Betsy