As each year comes to an end, we often reflect upon the last twelve months. Looking back helps us to acknowledge our experiences, recognize the lessons learned, and be more prepared as we move forward and focus on the year ahead.
Our reflections of this past year will be different. We accomplished so much together, but in the wake of the pandemic, which was an already life-changing experience, we were shaken to our core by the Highland Park shooting. While it has been almost six months, it feels like forever.
We remember and honor the seven individuals who were taken too soon, and we keep all of those who were injured, so many still trying to physically recover, and their families in our thoughts and in our hearts.
Pain and grief change with each new season. Every milestone holds added layers of loss and we are each affected in different ways. We know from experience that there is no timetable for how we feel. It isn’t about moving on; it is about adapting.
Our temporary memorial remembering the seven victims of the Highland Park shooting is always open and may provide a place of comfort and solace. It is a quiet and contemplative space located adjacent to Highland Park City Hall at 1707 St. Johns Avenue. In January 2023, planning for a permanent memorial will begin with feedback from victims’ families, survivors, and the public.
We don’t choose when change and hardship come, but we do choose how we respond to them.
The shooting did not define us. As a community, we continue to rise to meet its challenges in remarkable ways. If we have learned anything about ourselves, it is that we can adapt, we care for each other, and we stand together to support our shared values.
While we may be guarded at times as we continue to walk through this journey of trauma and grief, the New Year brings with it great hope. Let’s continue to come together as we do our important work of recovery with kindness, mindfulness, determination, and support for each other.
Wishing you and those you care about a peaceful, healthy, and meaningful New Year.
Nancy R. Rotering
Mayor, City of Highland Park, IL