What’s In A Name?

Like a windowpane
Broken by a storm
Each tiny piece of me lies alone
And scattered
Far beyond repair
All my shiny dreams
Just lying there
I’m broken but I’m laughing
It’s the sound of falling glass
I hope that you won’t mind if I should cry in public
While I wait for this to pass
‘Cause sweet darling I’m shattered
Into fragments cold and gray
Sweep the pieces all away
Then no one will ever know how much it mattered
Something deep inside of me
Shattered

-Shattered/ Jimmy Webb lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

A few years ago, I stopped to look at the memorial reflecting pools at the World Trade Center complex. The pools had already been installed for a few years, but I had yet to visit.  I had some down time before I was to meet  a tourist group heading out to one of the area’s airports where I would facilitate their return to wherever else they called home. I don’t really know why I had never visited before. Perhaps the opportunity had not presented itself in this particular and  convenient manner. Perhaps, living a mile or so away and remembering those towers slowly ascending to the skies as a young person, bit by bit from the corner of 7th Ave. and 19th St. made such a visit difficult. The uncle of a school friend of mine was a construction worker who perished during the building of the towers.

Years later, in August of 1974  a week or so before my inevitable return to the southwest where the mountains are not made of concrete and steel to continue my meager attempts at an education, I found my mother spellbound  watching the television more intently than usual. Something was off, for one thing, she was standing up. Normally when she was transfixed by the TV she was lying on the couch, in the evening, watching her “stories” as she liked to call any favorite TV show. At that point in time she was having a vicarious love affair with Telly Savalas of Kojak fame. He had been shooting in the area of her office once and stopped to give her a kiss on the cheek, she was never the same after that.  I don’t know why she was even home that morning. She was still working for a large bank which has since been absorbed by an even larger bank and if she was at work, she would have been a lot closer to the action she was watching on the screen.  Anyway, she was home and I ambled over to the TV to see what could possibly have put her into such a trance so early in the morning. And there on the screen a lithe figure with the most appropriate name of Petit, was treating an entire city that had seen it all to something they had never seen before and likely in a city accustomed to the unlikely, would never see again, as the news media made sure his magic would hypnotize the entire country, indeed the whole world as he walked a  wire 1350 feet above the ground between the twin towers of the World Trade Center which was not even completely finished yet. Walked is putting it mildly, for 45 minutes he walked, danced, knelt and put on a show.

The city was in the middle of economic collapse, the Mets were horrible, the Yankees were not much better but at least they won a few more games than they lost while they suffered the indignity of  playing at Shea Stadium as the House that Ruth Built was being rebuilt.  The streets were a bit more dicey, Abe Beame was the mayor and we were informed by no less an authority than the New York Daily News that the President of the United States had told us all to Drop Dead. Pretty loud words for an unelected president whose biggest claim to fame might well be making a star out of Chevy Chase. Not the city in Maryland, the actor/comedian.

But I digress, as I wandered around the pools studying the bricks, I saw my own name, the middle initial was different, but it was the same first and last. It was a chilling moment. Prior to that I had considered myself fortunate and although tied to the complex by birthright and experience I also had a safe distance from the tragedy of 9/11. Yes, my town was attacked, and yes, I walked around like most other New Yorkers that day like a ghost wondering if any friends or family were missing, injured or worse. I too experienced the surrealism and immediate panic of the day. I feared war, and maybe a part of me on that day in that moment, wanted war. I wanted “them” whoever “they “ were to hurt as much as “us”.

But time can heal, this is not to say that it always does, but it can. I did not lose anyone that day. I no longer worked for the temporary agency that was housed there and have often wondered if the people who acted as my counselors were still employed there  and hoped that if they were, they made it out. Still, just as a matter of routine I often had to go down to that part of town and usually took the E train to the WTC stop. I was lucky. I did not have to be down there that morning. A friend’s, friend’s ex-girlfriend was saved by a faulty alarm clock causing her to be late for work.

I also saw the name of someone I went to high school with 30 years earlier on those bricks. We were not close, but we were in the same home room for four years and he was a likeable chap. The feeling in the pit of my gut became more intense. I was tempted to call my office and say, “sorry I’m sick I can’t go”.  And in a sense, I would not have been lying. I needed to chill, and I certainly did not want to put people on an airplane. In time I composed myself, met my group and continued with my life.

I don’t know why I am writing all this. Well, check that, I do know  At least I think I do. This was not a piece I was planning on writing. In fact, I was working on another piece that I thought might be ready in a week or two. But then I heard the news about the murders of more innocent people in Thousand Oaks, CA. The last news report I heard mentioned they were still working on releasing the names of the murdered. And my thoughts went back to all the other times we have been through the ordeal of waiting for the names. All the families who have had to endure hours, days and sometimes weeks of emotional torture waiting for the names. Seeing my own name on those bricks brought home to me that  the difference of a measly mile and a half of geography or a middle initial is very small. We wait now as a nation, we wait again. And sadly, we all know that such a time of waiting is only another not so distant news cycle away.  Each name will have a story, and a purpose, and they will have had dreams. They will be remembered for their smiles, their laughs, their good works, their habits, their hobbies, their loves. Those who love them will weep and a part of all of us will weep with them before we pull ourselves together, as they would have wanted us to do, and because we must, for it is the only way we can win again in this madness that has become us and is so unbecoming of us.

So  as both a tribute and a reminder I am posting the names of all the beautiful, challenged, lovely, complex and lost souls, lost to multiple shootings in just 2018. Obviously the Thousand Oaks names cannot be included here. But Thousand Oaks is in our thoughts here on the Ledge. I  also have not posted the names of people killed in single shootings. They are no less important but if I did that I would never finish. I have not posted the names of people who survived even if injured.  They can speak to the horrors of the chaos we have become, in ways that no one else can. In some cases, for whatever reasons, names in some of the multiple shootings have not been released so I cannot post those, but they are very much included in the spirit of this. I also have not separated them by the events by which they perished. I wanted them to speak as one voice because their loss to us amid all this madness can only help to unify us, the remaining souls who in moments like this may be more lost than them. The new election brings hope but now we need to activate that hope into a reality. We need to do better.

In looking through the names what became horrifyingly clear to me was that in more than a few cases these massacres took the form of familial murder, for the most part dads killing their spouses and the most innocent among us who have barely tested the wings of life. Yes, the threat can be the big bad scary wolf at the door, but with so much availability and so much untreated mental illness and so much malady of war and PTSD, very often the big bad wolf is already in the house

I have pointedly not posted the names of the shooters who have been killed or died by their own hand. I realize there are those who will say that they were troubled and deserve our mercy as well. They will say that circumstances we can never hope to understand brought them to this horrible moment . I do not completely disagree with that sentiment, but the fact of the matter is, when looked at it in the cold light of a day so many others will never see again, the wish-fulfillment of headlines or perverse celebrity drives so much of this that in my own personal space of journalism I  am electing not to riddle the nobility of  innocents with such madness. Perhaps the perception of such avenues to the cheapness of fame drying up will quell some of this. One can only hope.

What’s in a name? Everything.  In these names are all of us. Every one of us. Appreciate their humanity while we stand waiting with the good people of Thousand Oaks , CA.

Maura Binkley, Nancy Van Vessem, Scott Bierlie, Aaron Hampton, Steven Marler, Bobby Beasley, D’Angelo Quinn, Darrishica Rogers, Aric Hall, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal,  Sylvan Simon, David Rosenthal, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger, Joyce Feinberg, Rose Mallinger, Bernice Simon, Andrea Wedner, Kaileigh Lin, Bo Li, Meigen Lin, Lia Li, Cynthia Michelle Collier, Eduardo Sandoval, Susan Nash, Dejona’e Nash, Deonte Nash, Juan Espinoza, Sr., Juan Sandoval III,  Jeremy Sandoval, Nicky Sandoval, Arie Davis, Farrah Turner, Terrence Carraway, Steve Nixon, Bruce Y. Miller, Calitiri Boone ,Jessie Williams, Sunday Aguda, Bromida Giri, Hayleen Reyes, Sang Yeon Kim, Mina Kim, Andy Kim, Yong Mun Kim, Eliseo Garcia, Laura Garcia, Antonio Valdez, Emanuel Contreras, Petra Maribel Bellanos Casarez, Richard Newcomer,  Pruthvi Raj Kandepi, Luis Felipe Calderon, Daryl Tann, Nykeema Kersey, Anthoni Readus, Wayne Carter, Taylor Robinson, Eli Clayton, Averill Davenport, Niesha Cooper, Dolores Sanchez, Francisco Rafael Montes, Kurshaw Jackson, Jeremiah Lee, Taiesha Watkins, Juan Lopez, Thelma Montalvo, Ernest Starry, Isaiah Starry, Roel Mireles, Tavish Harris, Kevontay Montgomery, Norriesha L Hills, Jamal Forrest, Julie Burton Edwards, Jacob Edwards ,Brinley Edwards, Paxton Edwards, Charlene Ann Orsi, Cadence Rose Orsi, Yvette Johnson, Kyrie Johnson, Wendy Winters, Rebecca Smith, Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fishman, John McNamara, Corey D Jackson, Nathaniel A Pena, Juan C Perez-Macedo, Shalonza E McToy, Erin Casey, Dove Lindsay, Aidan Lindsay, Lilla Lopez, Irayan Lopez ,Steven Alexander Jr. ,Taneshiea Brown, Trevor Bullard, Jercoby Groover, Royal D’Von Smith Jr., Cheresse Lutricia Jackson, Breyanna Priscilla Jackson, Nykerria Shanyia Jackson, Glenda Ann Perkins, Sabika Sheikh,Cynthia Tisdale, Christopher Jake Stone, Shana Fisher, Angelique Ramirez, Jared Conrad Black, Aaron Kyle McLeod, Kimberly Jessica Vaughn,  Christian Riley Garcia, Seth Richardson, Drake Alexander Painter, Caydence Nicole Painter, Odin Tyler Painter, Joe C Lor, Gina Xiong, Kayleen Lor, Dejuan Hill, Deandre Doyle Rogers,  Deondre Cabine, Charles Ray Justice, Timothy Solano, Brandon Stephenson, Melissa Tierney, Taurean C. Sanderlin, Joe R. Perez, DeEbony Groves, Akilah Dasilva, Viktoriya Manasyan, Rashawn Tahir Miller, Erica Nichelle Smith, Keithan Whitmire, Harmony Smith, Ricky Dixon, Kimson Green, Ryan Massey, Carlos Rodriquez, Jaques McBride, Mareco McNair, Donald Hughes, John Williams, Cierra Bargineer, Raphael Hall, Kristen Thomas, Jaymon Thomas, Scott Biegel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Alyssa Alhadeff, Christopher Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Alexander Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, Meadow Pollack, Peter Wang, Helena Ramsey, Byron Jackson, Jamar Robinson, Patricia Williams Wilson, Barbara Williams, Cynthia Williams, James Wayne Nickell, Arlene Nickell, Lindsay Vanhoose, Edvin MIlkevic, Nicole Novak, Micha Flick, William Scott Porterfield, Seth William Cline, Chelsia Lou Cline, Courtney Sue Snyder, Jarilyn Lantigua-Tejada, Joshua Santos, Juan Rodriguez, Nelson Onofre , James Ratcliffe, Deron Gray, Preston Ryan Cope, Bailey Nicole Holt, Darnykka Daniel, Samaii Daniel, Sammarre Daniel, Robert Payne, Jonathan Graham, Sherry Gann.

The second amendment is second for a reason. Write to your legislators, sign the petitions, make the phone calls. Exercise your first amendment rights. While we still have them.

 

 

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