By Abby Wargo
The day after the shooting at the Capital-Gazette in Annapolis, I unlocked the back door to the office at the Kent County News where I was an intern. At the sound of the door opening, one of my coworkers that was already in the office popped her head out of her office, scanned the hallway, and looked relieved to see me. She apologized and said she was on edge after what had happened the day before, just a stone’s throw away.
The day prior, a man who had a personal vendetta against the Capital Gazette walked into their offices and opened fire. The intern there, who I had met a month or so prior for internship training, tweeted a plea for help while hiding under a desk.
Five people were killed and two were injured that day. The gunman had wanted to “kill every person” in the newsroom.
While a few miles away journalists were being murdered, I was in Washington, D.C. for my second internship at the Washington Blade. I drove home that day listening to details of the attacks slowly leak out, filling me with rage and fear.
I interned at two very different papers last summer, but both felt the weight of the tragedy in Annapolis. We were offered to work from home for the next few days, and some staff members received ALICE training. The front office at the Kent News was rearranged to give our editor there a better escape route.
Now, I am the editor-in-chief here at The Elm, and I’m looking into future jobs in journalism. All the while, the Annapolis attack lingers in the back of my mind. Will I ever have to face that kind of violence?
Last week, a gunman walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and shot 11 people and wounded six others, two of whom are still in intensive care. They had been worshipping when the gunman arrived; the oldest victim, Rose Mallinger, had been attending the synagogue for over 60 years, according to USA Today.
The attack was reportedly one of the worst in Jewish-American history. The gunman had been shouting “anti-Semitic epithets against Jews during and after the massacre,” according to authorities.
This latest attack comes just months after Annapolis, and shortly before that, the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of Nov. 3, there have been 306 mass shootings in the United States in 2018.
There have been 10 mass shootings in the week following the Oct. 27 attack in Pittsburgh. As the last woman killed was laid to rest, and in the time since I started writing this article, an attack occurred at a hot yoga studio in Tallahassee, Fla. Three people were gunned down and five were injured.
That is an unfathomably high number of attacks. Hundreds of friends, families, and acquaintances have had to experience this harsh reality of modern America in the past few months. Hundreds of people have felt the pain of loss, and hundreds more have been left to worry what’s coming next.
We do not have the luxury of saying, “Never again.” This will happen again. And again. And again.
And the worst part is, nowhere is safe. Schools, churches, synagogues, movie theaters, yoga studios — places of safety and comfort — can all become crime scenes in a matter of minutes. Hatred does not see anything as sacred.
Remembering these attacks is difficult. But we owe it to the victims to carry the memory beyond the 24-hour news cycle. They cannot be forgotten. I implore you, do not forget. Amid the suffering and violence, remember your — our — humanity. Acknowledge this pain and use it for change.