On October 1, 2017, I was listening to country music with my oldest sister and best friends, looking over the lights of our hometown. When we heard several loud popping sounds, I told my best friend, “they’re just fireworks.” They weren’t fireworks.
Someone yelled “get down,” and we did. My sister put her body over my friends and me, and we were silent. Among thousands of strangers, we had to make the decision to run for our lives. I called 911 and then texted my mom. “Shooting.” She said “by you?” I said “at the festival, we are running, I love you.” I am so very grateful that my dad was able to drive to a nearby hotel to pick us up. I am forever grateful I am here today, along with all those I was with that night.
While I have no physical scars, I have had increased anxiety and hypervigilance in my daily life since that day. Outdoor events are difficult for me, and I constantly think of an escape plan, wherever I am. We need change, so no one has to be afraid of “fireworks” ever again.