BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — “I think we all know where we were ten years ago today when we either witnessed, responded to, or even just heard about the tragic events that occurred in this very building,” said Raini Baudendistel, executive director of the Crime Victims Assistance Center.
She and other local leaders and representatives paid tribute to the survivors, victims and their families outside the American Civic Association Wednesday.
“The chaos, the devastation and the long-term aftermath were thrust on all of us to some extent,” said Baudendistel.
While leaders spoke outside the ACA, inside, English language classes are still going on, like they have for the past ten years. Attendees walked from the ACA down the block to the cement memorial. It has a broken column in the middle – a symbol of life cut short – and 13 white birds flying away from it.
The current mayor of Binghamton, Rich David, honored his predecessor, Matt Ryan who, at the time, contacted the consulates of the countries each victim was from.
Several family members and friends attended, including Samir Khalil.
Khalil used to live in Baghdad and survived two attacks while living there. His wife, Layla, urged them to flee Iraq and move to the United States. As refugees, they settled in Binghamton, where she took English classes at the ACA. Within months of arriving, she was killed.
“That is what happened and that is ten years now, but we still live with it, you know. It is not easy. When I remember it, even my kids, they went, moved from here. They didn’t want to stay in this place,” said Khalil.
His kids didn’t want to attend this year’s memorial services either.
For him, healing isn’t a matter of one day, two days, ten days, ten years.
“We don’t want to remember it sometimes, but you cannot. That is the problem.”
You live with it everyday. It’s unrelenting. To cope, Khalil just tries to, as he puts it, “engage himself,” to keep busy.
He says gun violence must end.