Columns | Northwest Herald

Eye On Illinois: Reflections in the wake of another tragedy

I was born in Highland Park.

I have repeatedly written and deleted several paragraphs following that sentence, perhaps enough to fill three times this space. That doesn’t count all the sentences I mentally composed while trying to go about my normal life Monday with the echoes of tragedy ringing in every quiet moment.

Perhaps some of those thoughts will come to light in future editions, but for now I find them all drowned by two prevailing notions. One, it is fairly selfish to make my own personal connections to a mass shooting, especially since so many Americans in 2022 can easily do the same, when I was never in any immediate personal danger.

Two, it is highly unlikely anything I write here would make a meaningful difference in preventing future tragedy. What is more probable is this column will be something to be copied and pasted when I or a loved one actually becomes a direct victim of a spree killing.

Longtime readers know I have lost a relative to gun violence, as my aunt died in a botched ATM robbery in South Carolina in January 2009. But that was a one-off incident, and in this day and age those distinctions seem somehow important to those who would solve our nation’s woes through social media posts.

As a Presbyterian fed up with “thoughts and prayers” and an active voter weary of elected officials who seem to covet fundraising dollars more than legislative accomplishments, Monday’s events were somehow deeply shocking yet entirely unsurprising.

It was quite unsettling to be on the fringe of the epicenter – wondering why law enforcement vehicles swerved through interstate traffic, sharing snippets of whatever information our phones yielded and ultimately evacuating the park in Northbrook, for there would be no more baseball – and balance that bewilderment with an odd mixture of survivor’s guilt and staring down the reality of “it can happen anywhere.”

Scott T. Holland

We live a half mile from our county’s only Level 1 trauma center. Ambulances are a common sight. Along with the occasional helicopter, these vehicles serve as a constant reminder that none of us is guaranteed the rest of a given day, let alone tomorrow, and that although statistics are ever in our favor we can only really function as humans by not fixating on the constant pain and loss that swirls around even the happiest and safest communities.

For our family, Independence Day 2022 will be the day we couldn’t finish our baseball tournaments. We had dinner with grandparents but no fireworks, then Tuesday was back to normal. Next Wednesday we go to Highland Park for baseball. We will remember, but we’ll move forward, as always.

We’re the lucky ones. For now.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at