The marching band passed by, my three children rushed to grab candy from the parade floats, and we waved to friends and neighbors we see every year at the Highland Park Fourth of July Parade. I asked my kids to pose for the camera at the same spot as the last seven years, to capture the memories of this tradition and joys of their childhood. The picture was taken at 10:13 a.m., the minute before much of their innocence was lost.
Then we heard a loud “POP-POP-POP-POP” and a pause, then more “POPs.” A pause that saved lives. A pause when my husband and I looked at each other in disbelief. It felt so unimaginable that what we heard were gunshots in our quaint town. Mass shootings were just news stories, right? How could they happen here?
I froze with fear, looking for my three children. Once I saw them running with their dad, I found my breath to run alongside them, no clue if the shooter was right behind us. We hid in a parking garage and later we finally made it home, forever changed.
Still fearing for our safety today. Gun violence must end.