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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hometown Tragedy: 28 Hours Later

(Let me start with this. I process my thoughts and feelings through words. That is why I started this Blog. Yesterday I was at a loss for words. All day. And in a moment of calm today-- I began to write.)

28 hours have passed.
28 hours ago two innocent lives were taken and the national spotlight found itself fixated on my hometown.
Yesterday was terrible.
I was scared to find out about an active shooter situation just minutes from my house...
Uneasy to find out that my child's daycare was on lockdown...
Then devastated to learn that two young, talented news professionals had lost their lives...
And that the person responsible was still on the run.

My drive to work was full of tears as I listened to the details unfold over the airwaves of a local radio station. They cut in after every song to let listeners know the latest developments. They even picked up the live announcement audio from WDBJ7 when they confirmed that they had lost two of their own. This was happening to all of us.
The world stopped in Roanoke, Virginia. Nothing moved.

The news traveled fast and wide and suddenly the place I have called home for 26 years was flooded with attention... Good, Bad, National, International...
The National Spotlight burns hard and fast...
To see your hometown trending on every social media outlet... is not a good thing. The feeling isn't that of pride. It's shame.
Shame that this awful event took two innocent lives ... Tore apart two families... Broke countless hearts... And devastated countless people around the world.
But it just so happened to be at your back door. And it all becomes that much more real.

Why chose to broadcast such a heinous crime on live television? Why force those friends and family to re-live their loves ones horrific last moments? We will never know the answers to these questions. The families will never see justice done.
This isn't a game. This isn't a TV show. This is real life.. Real people... Real lives. Lost.
But they are right. Those videos are not to be taken lightly. Those videos are horrific.
That is someone's daughter. Someone's son. Someone's best friend. The love of someone's life.

The National Spotlight burns hard and fast... and burns out quickly.
It has been 28 hours. My beloved hometown has been the focus of every news outlet around the world for the last 28 hours. Reporters and Journalists that I have respected and adored for years are outside of WDBJ7 & the Bridgewater Marina updating the world on the latest developments.
But what's next?
... in 24 more hours the satellite trucks will pack up and move out.
... the news cycle will hit "refresh", the reporters will go home and our community will become quiet again.
From that point on-- as each day passes-- the feelings will fade.
The world will continue to turn and we will continue to go about our lives.
Just as Columbine did. And Newtown. And Virginia Tech.
We will mourn for the lives lost forever. And we will celebrate their accomplishments and potential.
But, what is next?
When will enough be enough?
Who else has to die for the country-- the world-- to realize that gun violence is a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously.
No more stonewalling. No more petty arguments. People are dying.
I beg the leaders of this country to come together and think of the countless lives lost to gun violence and act!
I don't have the answers. I never claimed to.
But what else needs to happen?
Who else needs to die?
This country is in pain and we are begging someone to speak up and solve the problem.
My hometown is in pain and I want to make sure that no one else has to watch these events unfold as they get their kids ready for school in the morning.
No one else should get the phone call that Adam & Alison's family got that morning. No one else.

It is so easy to forget how real these tragic events are.
If you don't live in Columbine....
If you didn't lose anyone in the Newtown school shooting. But they still hurt. 
This area knows this feeling a little too well.
It was only 8 years ago that so many beautiful lives were lost on the Virginia Tech campus. A tragedy all too similar. We had the same gut wrenching feeling watching videos that day as the shots rang out. 
We cried. We fought back. We stood strong and we moved forward. 
And the same will happen at WDBJ7 and in Roanoke, Virginia.
We mourn these beautiful lives. Pray for the victim fighting for her life. Pray for peace for all of the family and loved ones affected. 
But the tears will dry. And life will move forward. No one will ever forget.
But my hope is that Alison & Adam will be remembered beyond this tragedy.

It is my hope that the memories of Adam & Alison...
and the 32 people killed at Virginia Tech...
and the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary..
and the 13 people killed at Columbine High School...
and the 9 people killed in Charleston, SC...
and the 12 people killed in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater...
and the 12 people killed in the Washington Navy Yard...
and the 13 people killed at Fort Hood...
and the countless others lost to gun violence across the country and around the world... every day.

It is my hope that their deaths will not be in vain. And that one day we can celebrate their lives and their impact on this world when a solution is found and the world puts and end to gun violence.
It will be in their honor. And on that day I will know that these people all made a lasting impact on my life... our lives... the country... the world... and the future.
They lost the opportunity to have a future of their own... but it is my hope that their stories will create a better future for us all.

Sending all of my love to Alison Parker & Adam Ward. Two young, talented professionals that I did not have the honor to know but I know that the two of you were truly loved by everyone you met.
Sending thoughts & prayers to their families and loved ones. We are so very sorry for your loss.
And to everyone at WDBJ7-- my heart goes out to you as you lose two special friends & teammates. I used to work as a producer at a competitor station and I speak for everyone who has EVER worked in a newsroom when I say: we are with you. Our hearts pour out to you. And every time you go on-air and manage to hold yourselves together under the most unbelievable of circumstances-- my respect for each of you grows and I am touched at your compassion and professionalism throughout this trying ordeal. Stay Strong. #RoanokeStrong 

With Love, 

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