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We All Stand With Virginia Beach
By Nancy E. Sheppard, Editor-in Chief

Like many in Hampton Roads, the military brought my family to southeastern Virginia. I was born in Norfolk and spent the majority of my life in Virginia Beach. Though I am now considered a "York County Transplant,” Virginia Beach will always be my home. I have several cousins, colleagues, and my best friend still live in Virginia Beach. I have so many happy memories in that city… going to Beach Street while in high school and college, my husband proposing to me at Sandbridge, my daughter born while we lived in Kempsville, my son taking his first steps at Little Creek… But the one memory that came to mind on Friday, May 31, was my husband and I going to the Municipal Complex to obtain our marriage license the day before we got married. That was one of the happiest days of my life. Trying to couple that image with the tragic events on May 31 was confounding.

Then my thoughts turned to worry over who was lost and injured. I heard, either directly or vicariously, from most of my loved ones who live in the city but I hadn’t heard from my best friend in several hours. I knew that he was probably fine but I was paralyzed with fear that something happened to him.

Like many locals, I couldn’t pull my gaze away from the news and continued to update the Facebook page for the Crier as more information came through the news wire. I anxiously watched my phone for a return text message from my best friend. Late in the evening, he finally texted that he was fine and I fell apart in my fleeting moment of relief.

Then relief dissolved as the actual reality of what happened set in: Twelve people needlessly lost their lives. Twelve people who went to work that morning, twelve people who were friends, relatives, loved ones, and coworkers, and whose lives were needlessly snuffed out. Twelve people who were no longer with us.

It is an unfortunate truth that violent shootings have become far too common in our country. But now is not a time to debate politics, gun reform versus protection… it is a time to remember those lives that were lost and to wrap our arms around those who lost someone and those injured that horrible afternoon. It is time to give thanks to the brave first responders who went above and beyond that day but will live with the images of it for the rest of their lives. We need to mourn in our own way and support those who are grieving for those they loved and lost.

It is a reminder to never take a moment with those you love for granted.

In Hampton Roads, we are a community of neighbors… and we will rise to the occasion to support everyone affected by those horrible events. I encourage you to put political discourse aside for now and reach out to the resources that have been put in place to support the victims (see the leading article on Page 1). I encourage you to do what us Hampton Roads residents are best known for – helping one another through trying times.

In Tidewater, we are strength, resolve, and we stand by one another. And right now, we all stand with Virginia Beach.