Each year on this date, our community remembers the tragedy that occurred Feb. 14, 2008, at Northern Illinois University.
Some of us have the luxury of pausing for a few minutes to reflect and remember, then move on.
The parents of the five students who were killed, the scores of other people who ran for their lives and survived, and others who were close to the scene live with the aftermath every day.
Much has changed in our community and at NIU in the decade since the tragedy that shocked our country, when a man opened fire on an instructor and more than 100 students in an oceanography class at Cole Hall on a Thursday afternoon. Five people were killed and 17 were wounded before the gunman shot himself.
We remember those young people whose lives were cut short that day:
• Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero
• Julianna Gehant, 32, of Mendota
• Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville
• Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester
• Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream
The untimely end to their journey on Earth remains tragic.
Sadly, it also has been followed by countless other mass shootings at schools, nightclubs, movie theaters, churches and other locations. There have been few changes in the law aimed at preventing these attacks, either through helping people with mental illness or making it harder to buy deadly weapons.
The disease of domestic terrorism has become so commonplace that many people seem resigned to its existence, and in some cases, desensitized to it.
Although many people who were here in 2008 have moved on, even those of us who were not here at the time know people who were and likely have heard them talk about the effect it had on them. Our community remembers.
One way people have chosen never to forget was to help establish an endowment for the Forward, Together Forward Scholarships. More than 1,800 donors have helped to fund five $4,000 awards given annually to NIU’s brightest students.
Those scholarships, along with individual scholarships in memory of some who were killed, have helped those who have come after realize their own potential.
Some scholarship recipients also have said it helped them realize the importance of making the most of their days, of supporting others in the community, and of working hard to be the best they can be.
Those are good lessons for us all, today and every day. Although we move on, literally and figuratively, let us not forget.