Thursday July 16, 2015 will forever be a day remembered in Chattanooga, TN.
It was the day that we will remember hearing the news of an active shooter situation.
We all waited. Rumors were flying about other shootings happening. Everyone was glued to the tv, radio or computer waiting for information. All the businesses around the location went on lockdown. No one in and no one out. We all called our loved ones just to make sure they were not involved in any way. We finally heard that it was no longer an active shooter situation. Our police officers had taken him down. Then came the questions. What had happened? Why had this happened? Who was this man? Who were the victims? Who was the police officer injured and how serious were his injuries?
Abdulazeez had sprayed bullets into a military recruiting center before heading to his second location where he committed this heinous unthinkable crime and finally being gunned down. Unfortunately before his death, he murdered, in cold blood, four brave U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy sailor. He also injured a Marine recruiter (Sergeant DeMonte Cheeley) and a local police officer (Dennis Pedigo, Jr.)
I left work that day and had to take an alternate route. My normal path would have taken me down the road that all these murders took place. It was obviously shut down, flooded with police cars and news media and city officials. My drive home still took me past the first crime scene and I could see news media vans gathering from the highway. By the time I got home they had released the gunman’s name on CNN. *chills* Could this have been a terrorist attack in my southern city? We were the top news story on all stations. We were national news. As I was falling asleep that night Chattanooga was being flooded with FBI, ATF & National Homeland Security.
I drove to work the next morning and passed the first crime scene again along the interstate. Even more news vans had arrived. As I reached my exit to drive down the road that this had happened; I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I neared closer and began seeing blue lights from the police cars blocking the entrances. Police tape lined the property and across the street were news vans parked one after the next. I began thinking about the lives lost. Sons were lost, husbands, dads and friends. They weren’t able to tell their loved ones goodbye. They were ripped from this world leaving behind mothers, fathers, kids and wives.
We will continue to grieve, mourn and pray for everyone involved. The amazing Chattanooga and Hamilton County officers that protected our city, the officer that was injured from the gunman, the Dr’s and nurses who treated those that were injured, everyone that lost their lives too soon and their families, anyone that witnessed this tragic unnecessary act of terrorism, all the public officials of Chattanooga and all those visiting our city to investigate the crime.
We never know when we will take our last breath on this Earth. As a Christian I know that I can say if something like that happened to me I know where I’m going. My family won’t question that I’m in a better place. I pray that each life lost had the same security I do.
Religion aside…it didn’t matter to that gunman what color, race, sex or religion those men and women involved were. We were attacked. Chattanooga must stand strong.
It has now been one year since this devastating act. Memorials are placed around the city to honor the fallen five and remind the city of the bravery that day.
All five victims killed were awarded the Purple Heart as well as the injured recruiting officer. The five Chattanooga police officers who discharged their firearms killing Abdulazeez as well as the injured officer were awarded the Top Cop award.
There have been countless services and benefit concerts to honor those who lost their lives and their families.
Chattanooga Unite: A Tribute on the River to benefit the family members of the fallen five was emceed by Chattanooga native Samuel L. Jackson and included Harry Connick Jr, Brantley Gilbert, Colt Ford, Aaron Lewis and Trace Adkins.
Chattanooga Sings for Hope concert at the ICCM church raised money for victims’ families and honored first responders as well as Officer Dennis Pedigo.
Rev. Willie Kitchens sings “People Get Ready” during an opening ceremony Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, in Chattanooga at a memorial to the five servicemen who were killed. The memorial is located at 6219 Lee Highway near the Armed Forces Career Center where the July attack began.
Hundreds filled Finley Stadium for a community photo to honor the fallen.
Vice President Joe Biden gave an emotional speech at a memorial service at The McKenzie Arena.
“The day will come when his memory brings a smile to your lips, before it brings a tear to your eye,” Biden said to family of the fallen. Biden went on to say that the five men lost were part of the 9/11 generation, one of the finest generations of warriors the world has ever known.
It’s really hard to know what to say about something like this when it happens, other than how much you feel for the families and the friends whose lives will never be the same as a result of something like this.We should all remember that the majority of the people who are taken from us, and from their families and friends when this sort of thing happens, are just like us. They are people who are just out there living their lives, doing what normal, regular, in many cases God-fearing, good honest people do every day. And they were randomly taken, by someone who for whatever reason chose to take them. And the thing we should never forget about any of this are the victims and their families.