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Thursday, July 23, 2015

That city in the valley... tough as nails.

I assume that many of you already know about the shooting that happened here in Chattanooga one week ago today. If you haven't, turn on your local or national news ASAP. Although there are multiple accredited sources out there, here's my understanding of what happened -

A man who was raised in Chattanooga went to two service recruiting bases and opened fire. Five servicemen were killed, and one local police officer was wounded. The shooter was killed by local law enforcement.

Now, our city buries four Marines and one Navy sailor, while a family in a local suburb grieves for their own son, who is now being portrayed as a vile human being, even though it appears they didn't know him that way.

The good news is that for now, the FBI believes that the shooter acted alone. Rather, I consider it a good thing that he was not connected with ISIS, Al Qaeda, or another terrorist organization. Local officials are calling this tragedy an act of domestic terrorism.

And I agree with them.

In the past week, I've come to realize that shootings never feel real until they happen less than two miles from your home. They don't feel real until they take the victims to the hospital you were born in and volunteered in for three summers. They don't feel real until a major road that you drive down regularly is closed because the FBI is in from Atlanta, and they most definitely do not feel real until you drive down that road again, six days after the incident, and see a cluster of grieving people memorializing one of the crime scenes with flags, notes, and flowers.

If you know anything about Chattanooga's layout, you know that there are a few ways to get from Hamilton Place Mall to the downtown area. I was out by Hamilton Place running an errand yesterday, and decided to take a different route than usual. I typically take I-24 all the way downtown, but yesterday, I felt compelled to take Amnicola Highway, the scene of the second shooting.

I saw police officers blocking off parts of this incredibly busy road to allow space for citizens to park and take their time contemplating the actions that took place in that very spot only a few days ago. People were taking in flags, letters, signs, food, and more to pay their respects and try to wrap their heads around an event like this happening so close to home.

As more and more of these shootings unfold, it becomes easy to ignore the magnitude of events like this. Personally, as shootings become more and more frequent, it has become harder for me to remember them all. They happen so frequently that I can't even keep them all straight anymore. But this one, this one I won't ever forget.

This one shut down hospitals, roads, and airports. It happened quite literally across the river from where I work. It has scared our town to death, and yet if you log on to Facebook, Instagram, or anything like that, you'll certainly see posts of grief and anguish, but you'll also see ones of hope.

Here's the thing about a town like Chattanooga - I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but we are a town that is both big and small. We are small enough to know our neighbors and speak with them about how troubling events like this are. We are also big enough to make a statement of defiance, one that says that we will not succumb to acts such as these. Because here's the other thing - terrorism only works if you are afraid. If you constantly remind yourself how horrifying it is that things like this continue to happen, day after day, city after city, the world looks like a dark place far too quickly. But I like to think that the sun is rising over Lookout Mountain this morning and whatever being you believe in is up above and is looking down on this little city surrounded by mountains and thinking, "damn, that city is strong."

xx, Victoria


  1. Just so sad. Domestic terrorism is huge right now and no one is doing anything about it. We are too worried about what is or isn't happening in other countries. We shouldn't be losing servicemen here in our own country, it is crazy!!

    xoxo Amanda
    The Miller Affect

  2. It's so sad that this type of stuff is happening far too often these days...

  3. My heart goes out to your community, it's so sad that we not only have to worry about terrorist over seas but also in our own backyard. xo

  4. It is definitely scary & extremely disappointing that these types of instances continue to occur fairly frequently here in the US. For the most part, innocent people are being affected by these happenings and it's just so terribly sad. I just hope that no one I know or you know gets in the middle of something like this or is in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's so scary! xx

  5. I thought this was so sad and so scary! I totally agree with your thoughts. It is so sad this is happening so often.

  6. Very just doesn't make sense and it is so scary that these are the times that we are living in. So sorry this happened in your just never know. Keep your faith.

    Brooke | KBStyled

  7. This is so sad and hard to hear - and now the situation in Louisiana. Something needs to change.


  8. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who were affected. It's so sad to see this happening so much in the U.S.

    Amanda ||

  9. What a tragedy, I'm so sorry you and your community are dealing with this. Like you, I'm so thankful this wasn't connected with ISIS or anything bigger.

    Valery Brennan

  10. Absolutely tragic, I will be praying for your community.


  11. This scares the crap out of me. And I am so heartbroken for those families. I wish there was a way to detect things like this and warn people to get to safety but obviously there's not a solution. Just so sad :(


Thoughts? I want to read them!
xx, Victoria