RICH JAMES: Why not honor those who died on streets?

2014-05-28T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Why not honor those who died on streets?By Rich James nwitimes.com
May 28, 2014 12:00 am  • 

There were highly emotional scenes across Northwest Indiana during the Memorial Day weekend with parades, services at cemeteries and war memorials.

The same can be said nationally, culminating with President Barack Obama laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

But nothing moved me more than a grieving Richard Martinez pleading for the end of the insanity in the wake of his son’s murder.

Christopher Martinez was one of six University of California at Santa Barbara students shot to death Friday by a crazed gunman who also was a student.

I’m not trying to belittle the contributions of our men and women in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I had an uncle die at Normandy, and I served for two years when I was drafted in 1967.

Most wars bring closure, as was the case with World War II with the defeat of Germany and Japan to keep the world free.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – none of which resulted because of threats to this country.

While we put wars behind us, the proliferation of guns continues, and people routinely are dying on our streets and in our schools.

Whether it is in Gary or Indianapolis or Chicago, gunfire is taking the lives of children and adults on an almost daily basis. Some of those who die aren’t the intended victims.

While we brought World War II to a conclusion, we’ve done an awful job of ending the war on our streets.

And that is what bothers Richard Martinez. He had some insight as to why.

“You don’t think it will happen to your child until it does,” Martinez said.

He went on, speaking through tears, saying, “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live?”

Martinez reached out to the Sandy Hook parents who lost 20 of their 6- and 7-year-olds at the hands of a gunman.

Since that day in December 2012, there have been 44 school shootings resulting in 28 deaths. There were seven school shootings in January 2014.

“When will this insanity stop? When will people say ‘stop this madness?' Too many people have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘not one more,’” Martinez said.

I don’t know that there is an answer to his question.

Sandy Hook has come and gone. People soon will forget about Chris Martinez and the others who died in California.

Yet, we go to great lengths to honor those who died in war.

But for an unexplained reason, we don’t honor those who died on our streets or prevent future killings. It’s almost as if they didn’t matter.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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