Warning: this is not my usual happy post with pictures of flowers or nature or something springlike.
No, spring in Binghamton, New York also means something else. The date of April 3 is a tragic date in our community.
Four years ago today, there was a mass shooting at the American Civic Association building at the edge of downtown Binghamton. An immigrant who had lost his job and had other issues entered an adult education classroom at a non profit organization whose mission was to help recent immigrants and gunned down 13 people before killing himself. At the time it was one of the top 10 mass shootings in the United States. (Apparently, it still is.)
The dead were from all over the world - symbolizing....something, I guess, I really don't know what. They came to Binghamton, New York to find opportunity and instead they found death.
A week later, I started my blog and my first post was an account of what I experienced that day.
CNN and major news networks came that afternoon. We, stunned, had our 15 minutes of fame. Then the media moved on and left us to mourn our dead.
I think we rank #8 in the list of U.S. deadliest shootings now - ranks, like this was a sports competition.
The family of the gunman, who lived perhaps a couple of miles from my home, moved from the area several months later.
The store where the murder weapon was purchased (also a couple of miles from my home) flooded in September of 2011 and will not reopen.
Today, the gathering was small, friends, family and others who were in the building that day. The families have moved on, too. Two children who were orphaned that day were taken in by relatives and are growing up.
A monument, featuring 13 soaring birds 14 feet above a busy street, is near completion. Our spirits are meant to soar with them, hopeful that good has come out of that day in 2009.
But, since then....too many innocents shot in too many incidents. The names can roll off our tongues: Newtown. Tuscon. Aurora. Fort Hood. How many more place names will join this elite list, already occupied by places such as Virginia Tech? And how many people dead since that day, in places all over the world? Syria? Afghanistan? The Middle East? Africa? Other places that don't get into the American media?
I don't have a point to make, commemorating this day. Except that, perhaps we need to think about human nature and what makes us want to destroy our fellow humans. Will we ever be able to conquer it?
Will we end up destroying ourselves before we do?