Our church is displaying a T-shirt memorial on our church lawn remembering the 155 people killed by gun violence in the greater Washington DC area in 2014. There is a T-shirt with the name of each who died written on it. The memorial feels like cemetery, but unlike a cemetery, it’s displayed beside a public street in front of our church rather than behind a fence and gate.
I make it part of my daily routine to walk between the rows of T-shirts and breathe prayers for the victims and their families. A few are 2 and 3-year-old children. Some are senior citizens and many are young men and teenagers killed in the prime of life. One T-shirt remembers James Brady, former President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, who sustained a gunshot wound in his head in an attempt on the life of the president. Brady later became a public advocate of handgun control. He succumbed to his wounds last year at the age of 73.
Sometime when we advocate for common sense gun laws, we get so wrapped up in the political struggle that we forget its spiritual dimension. A small sign beside our memorial invites us to stop, pray, and remember. People often walk by on the sidewalk when I’m there. Some ask questions and many express appreciation. I can tell that it touches a deep cord inside them. We can do better as a people and a nation.