Memorializing the normal tragedies


It appears the country is racing to get back to normal: to life as it was pre-pandemic.

On Wednesday a Northern California man walked into his San Jose workplace and shot to death nine people.

Yet one more mass shooting in this country. Depending on how you define them it is the 232nd mass shooting of the year 2021.

In 2020 there were 611 mass shootings.

The year before there were 417 similar deaths.

Indiscriminate, senseless killing en masse is normal here, as is the Republican Party’s obstinacy toward considering meaningful change to gun safety laws. Thoughts and prayers to the bereaved continue to be the response of those who choose gun culture over dialogue. Business as usual. Just another day. Normal.

So maybe it’s time to do something out of the ordinary. Something unusual. Almost abnormal. Maybe it’s time to consider another Memorial Day.

The coming holiday is to commemorate and show respect for those who lost their lives defending this country. Perhaps Memorial Day II can be for those who lost their lives by simply living in this country. Working to provide for their families, sharing a moment with a loved one at a concert, or sitting in a classroom in an attempt to fulfill their promise as a human being.

That was them fulfilling their duty.

In the nation’s capitol there is a wall etched with the names of veterans who died in the Vietnam War. What would a memorial to those who died because of a mass shooting look like?

A dinner table with an empty place setting, symbolizing the missed meals a now broken family will have to endure for the rest of their days?

Perhaps sculptures of overturned school desks, scattered text books, and tiny backpacks next to pencils and crayons will convey the gravitas and despair of slaughtered sons and daughters?

Or maybe, in a nod to Second Amendment zealots and the NRA, we commission a giant defiant fist clutching an automatic rifle and on that sculpture we carve in tiny letters the names of people who have been gunned down. It seems fitting given we value one more than the other.

Mourning those who die and trying to find ways to make their lives mean something is normal. We are halfway through this year. Already I am tired of normal.

Memorializing the normal tragedies