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Petals on the ground

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The last couple of weeks have been insane in our community and in the entire nation.

On October 27, we witnessed another mass shooting in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue. It was a stark reminder that we are not free of the evil that consumes so many lives in this world.

I am not here to turn this article into a political statement, rather, this piece is an expression of how I felt during this crazy time.

I don’t know if I would call the world crazy, perhaps “intense” is the right word. People are divided among issues and it seems we cannot coexist. The world became even more crazy to me Nov. 7 when the news alert came out that there was a mass shooting at the Thousand Oaks Borderline Bar & Grill.

To this day, I do not know what to feel. It is the weirdest feeling to wake up and your own hometown is on the list of recent mass shootings. Thousand Oaks was a safe place, suburbian paradise even. It seemed like most of these mass shootings had occurred in other, bigger cities, and it never once crossed my mind that it could happen in our small town.

I was always taught that I needed to be vigilant and watch my surroundings for the people that may commit such an act or where they could possibly happen. I was well aware that these horrific acts could happen in my own small town. But the reality of it happening struck me in a weird place. It was no longer a mass shooting across the nation, it was right here in a place I see almost every day.

I went to the vigil. I saw the crosses for each victim. As I placed candles by each cross, I felt a sense of peace and serenity. It was the only place where it did not smell of smoke and you could not see the flames. The wind never blew by Borderline. Seeing all these flowers and candles made me realize that there is more good in this world than the evil we see projected onto the big screens. It is ironic that in a city mourning over violence and hate, the vigil had become the most peaceful place in the town.

Over Thanksgiving Break, I went to the synagogue and a similar feeling followed. They have glass-blown flowers for each victim, and the residents in that vicinity drive past the synagogue almost every day. But along the grass, petals that remain from the flowers that have been picked allude to the collective community in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. I felt that same peace and serenity that I felt at Borderline. That same tragic irony.

Now, I know peace and serenity may not be the right words to describe these locations — the peace comes from the sense of closure almost, that in a world of violence and hate the survivors and family members were surrounded by the ones they loved the most and continue to be surrounded by them.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to register my feelings about everything that has gone on in our community these past weeks, but I do know this: if you have a chance to place a flower next to those crosses a sense of closure may come to you, too, as we remember the angels and not the gunman. At least, I believe so.

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About the Writer
Alex Goldbeck, Photo Editor

Alex Goldbeck is a junior at Oak Park High School. She served as the opinion editor for the 2017-18 school year and is currently the 2018-19 photo editor.

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