The Unforgotten

I’ve been thinking of posting about this exhibit for some time now, but following the horrific event in Charleston South Carolina, I figured this was probably an appropriate time.

The Unforgotten is an amazing piece of art, that transcends what it actually is, into something much more. As I heard the news emerging out of Charleston, I knew 2 bits of information would be inevitable to cross the television.

1) The number of victims
2) The name of the murderer

And that is all people will really remember.  That is the train of thought behind the exhibit The Unforgotten.  In these events, we always remember the name(s) of the killer(s), and yet we reduce the victims to numbers, perhaps ages…but ultimately statistics.

So a group of people decided that they would attempt to change that.  They would make sure that the victims of gun violence would remain “Unforgotten,” by celebrating them as people.  The best way to make that impact…is to have them there, at least in spirit, and more poignantly, in a physical form.  It is that point that makes the Unforgotten so genius.

Now, I’ve had the occasion to see this exhibit twice.  It’s amazing striking…powerful.  I hate using that word “powerful”….it feels so cliche…but in this case it is so appropriate.  The first time I saw them, I immediately teared up.

The statues are, in most cases, wearing the actual clothes of the victims.  The statues were also built to scale, in terms of height and size of the victims.  I also had the occasion to be present when the families of the victims saw the statues for the first time.  Overwhelmingly, you heard the repeated refrain “That’s him.  That’s her”. The creators spent time to try and get the feel of the people, down to the way they stood, the character they would present if they were standing or sitting out in public.

Which is what makes this particular exhibit so very sad, because they aren’t sitting or standing out…and they never will again.  Most of the victims in this exhibit were teenagers, teens being the group most disproportionately affected by gun violence, although the oldest victim was one month away from retirement, and a police officer no less.

This exhibit will be on display yet again at the Annual Saint Sabina End of School Peace Rally and March tomorrow, June 19th.  If anyone has the opportunity to go see it,

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I also encourage you to go the Unforgotten website and read the stories of the victims represented in the exhibit.  Spread the video, the site and information to others.  Then, sign the accompanying petition on the site.  It will help to combat illegal gun use and gun violence.

Finally…in the upcoming days, you’re going to hear a lot of news coming out of Charleston, concerning the shooting.  And you will hear the name of the shooter…over and over.  Make sure that you take some time to see and/or hear the names of the victims.  In this situation, they are the ones who are truly important.  They lost their lives to a senseless act of violence, and we owe it to them to remember them, and to make their deaths stand for something more than just a senseless, horrible act.  We need to make sure that they too, remain #Unforgotten.

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