Saying "Yes" to Coffee, "No" to Guns
It was a Monday morning like every other. The short commute to work. A quick stop at his desk, then down the hall to fill his favorite mug with coffee. That’s when the shooting erupted.
Bullets tore holes. His new boss, just five days on the job, slumped to the floor—lifeless. Colleagues hid under desks and behind not-bulletproof cubical walls. Doors became barricades. Hearts raced and pulses pounded. But some slowed to a stop, as NAVSEA employees—husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers died that ordinary fall morning—victims of a delusional gunman aiming schizophrenically at shadowy low electromagnetic frequencies.
At 8:08 am, the 30ish security-cleared former government contractor entered NAVSEA Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard in DC. He went into a fourth-floor bathroom and minutes later emerged with a Remington 870 shotgun, sawed-off barrel and stock.
He shot his first victim at 8:16 am, and for more than an hour, he shot indiscriminately at people on several levels. At 9:25 am, police killed him.
After the chaos? Eight injured and 12 dead—in 2013, the second-deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. military facility, and one of the deadliest single events in the nation's capital. If you attended the memorial you heard the tragic echo of 12 bell tolls. And a phrase we’ve now become numb to: “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families…”
Nevertheless, each September when the air begins to cool, I think about that Monday and how I feared the worst for my husband, who says that cup of morning coffee saved his life. I’m sad for everyone involved, and those affected by ANY gun violence.
In the building today, there’s a “Remembrance Area.” He doesn’t talk about it, but I believe there’s a remembrance area in my husband’s soul—a part of him that can’t unsee the carnage and unfeel the despair of that uncommonplace day and its aftermath. He’s a hero to me, not because he survived, or helped others stay safe and communicate with their anxious families, but because most days in the years since the tragedy, he turns away from turmoil of the past and walks up the steps of building 197, where his colleagues are no more.
I wish coffee could save everyone from merciless shootings. Please consider the horrific role that firearms and lack of widespread mental health initiatives continue to play in our lives.
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