Write Team: There must be something more

It’s hard to believe we are just one month past the horrific mass shootings in Highland Park.

While families gathered on Central Avenue and Second Street in downtown Highland Park to watch the annual Fourth of July parade, 21-year-old Robert Eugene Crimo III, positioned himself on the roof of the Ross Cosmetics Building and opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle with three 30-round magazines. A total of 83 shots were fired. Seven people were killed, and 48 others were wounded by bullets or shrapnel.

While the event itself was profoundly devastating, the ripple effect it’s had on people’s lives have left many asking the question “will I ever feel safe in a public gathering again?”

This past weekend was Lollapalooza, the massive four-day music festival in Grant Park in Chicago. Lolla brings people from all over the country. Sadly, this year, and having nothing to do with the pandemic, people are asking themselves if it safe to attend.

My friend Katherine Janicek Wright is a former news producer for NBC and mother of a 3-year-old daughter. She recently expressed her feelings of what would happen if while out with her daughter something liked this happened again. She questioned whether she would be able to pick up Zofie and run with her to safety. She also shared thoughts of what we’re all thinking:

“Highland Park is a community I have often placed on our list to move next. It’s somewhere you might aspire to live. Where I live, in Chicago, I hear gunshots regularly. When I look on the Citizen app, I see the shots were fired just 0.8 miles away. That’s why I often think about moving to the North Shore to a community like Highland Park. This doesn’t happen there. Until today. Now this happens there too.”

Melissa Foreman is another friend, and top-rated Morning DJ in Chicago that was directly affected by the shootings. Melisa lives in Highland Park with her husband and kids and was at the parade when the shooting started. It took her a while to process, and my guess is she is still processing.

She shared her own thoughts on the story we were all drawn to, that of 2-year old Aiden McCarthy, the little boy that lost both his parents in the shooting. Melisa was able to find some small comfort Father John Cusick, a priest from Old Saint Pat’s downtown Chicago. He wrote:

“Are mommy and daddy coming soon? No, Aiden. And I don’t know how to explain it properly to you. You are so young. You are only 2 1/2. But I was told this: The last act of your daddy’s life was to wrap his arms and body around you so that you might have the opportunity to live a long, happy, and productive life. Your daddy’s arms held you from the earliest moments of your life to the last moments of his. Your mommy’s and daddy’s arms, hearts, and enormous love are still with you now and forever.”

It’s too pithy to simply say life goes on, regardless of what happens. We know that. And I think Father Cusick put it best:

“My soul is sad today and my heart is breaking. And I am getting tired of hearing these words: ‘My thoughts and prayers go out to those victims and their families.’ Don’t get me wrong. My thoughts are genuine, and prayers are sincere. They have been for those people since first hearing about the Highland Park massacre. But they are no longer enough. They must be a means to something more. They are not an end.”

  • Jonathan Freeburg is an Ottawa transplant for the past two decades-plus and a regular contributor to 1430 WCMY Radio. He can be reached at newsroom@shawmedia.com.