We're all San Bernardino
Another horrible act of terror, more lives cut short and destroyed. Mass violence came to San Bernardino on Wednesday. 14 dead and 21 wounded. The horror of mass shootings came to my town. Although the grim statistics, reports, and interviews sound similar to those reports seen so many times, this one is different because it's all so familiar to me. The perpetrators' home was a mile from where I used to do my MA research. It's a few hundred meters from where an elementary school friend lives and near where I completed the Run Through Redlands on several occasions. It's close to Redlands Bowl, the longest-running free summer music festival in the country. The location of the massacre is less than a mile from where my Dad lived for nearly 10 years. It's less than a mile from the first elementary school my brother, sister, and I attended, wide-eyed, riding the yellow school bus, when we moved to the States in 1983. My Dad used to live only a few hundred meters from where the suspects were killed. I have a high-school classmate whose sister worked there...everything about this massacre and the aftermath aches with familiarity. A friend's daughter attends a school where a student took out a gun and shot someone. That hit close to home. This one hits home even more. San Bernardino is where McDonald's was founded in 1940. It was a stop on historic Route 66. It's been on downward trajectory since the '60s when urban renewal replaced downtown San Bernardino with a mall. This made it harder to access downtown San Bernardino and made the city center less of a destination. Kaiser Steel in nearby Fontana closed in 1985 and almost simultaneously Santa Fe Railroad moved its operations to Topeka, Kansas, taking more economic stimulus. Then When Norton Air Force Base was closed in 1994, 10,000 more jobs were ripped from the city. Having lived there through much of the '80s-'00s, I've seen the slow decline of the city. And now this. And the sad thing is, none of this is particularly unique. Someone aged 40 could write a similar blog post to this one about Umpqua Community College, Newtown, Aurora, Colorado, or any of the many, many, many mass shootings that have happened nearly daily for over 3 years. Those places all mean many wonderful things to people living in those communities. Those places had bars where people drank. They had restaurants where people ate together. Fathers lived there and kids had their first experiences partying in parks in those places and people made their lives in those places. Only, one day, someone with a gun took people out in those places so that people couldn't go to those parks or get married or have families or live their lives.