More than 30 people gathered Saturday in the Peace Garden at Island Park in Winfield to remember victims of gun violence and suicide and to express their support for gun sense legislation.
The event, commemorating National Gun Violence Awareness Day, included a tree- and flower-planting ceremony. Many of those attending wore orange to show their support.
“We wear orange on this day to honor those whose lives have been stolen by gun violence and to elevate the voices of all Americans who demand an end to senseless gun violence,” said Abby Shull, co-leader of the local Moms Demand Action group. “The large turnout at our Winfield Wear Orange event shows that the movement for gun sense is growing.”
Included in the ceremony was a story related by Theresa Papon, a volunteer with the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, who herself enjoys hunting and shooting and owns guns. She put a face to the tragedy of gun violence by sharing the story of her twin brother, who committed suicide three years ago.
The Rev. Lora Andrews, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, shared the litany, which included the refrain, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”
Katherine Lenz, a sophomore at Winfield High School, played the violin.
Participants took turns shoveling dirt over the Eastern redbud’s roots. The tree was donated by Gottlob Lawn and Landscape Nursery and Garden Center.
Children planted orange lantana in remembrance of those who had lost their lives to gun violence and suicide.
Following the event, Joy Hathaway Lenz wrote about her experience: “Call your politicians and ask for sensible gun laws. Vote for candidates who are actively working to end gun violence. Keep your guns locked up and out of reach of children. Get help for anger or depression or abuse. Do everything you can to stop the violence and end the need for circles of orange.”
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. The Winfield chapter was established in February 2018 by concerned citizens who felt compelled to start a local chapter after the mass shooting at Parkland, Fla.
For more information about the organization, text the word READY to 644-33.