You didn’t have to go to Sturgeon Bay’s Unwrapped event on Friday evening or its Holiday Parade the next day to be shocked, saddened and disgusted by what happened in Waukesha on Sunday.
As of our short deadline this week, few details had been released about the person who drove a red SUV into the Waukesha Christmas Parade and killed five people, wounding at least 40 others.
But I did happen to go to both of Sturgeon Bay’s events, so it was fresh in my mind. The barricades and crowded sidewalks and streets, the happiness on faces, the air of holiday celebration and festivity, a time of joy and love and goodwill toward all.
Faces were open and unguarded, full of innocence and naïveté – as they should be. No one ever attends a parade anticipating acts of terrorism or hatred. And it’s not just the victims of senseless crimes but the witnesses of those crimes who suffer. All the parade-goers who attended the event were bound together in time when, in a nanosecond, joy turned to confusion and then fear.
The news made me want to escape. To migrate north to Canada and lose myself in a wilderness untouched by so-called civilization.
That was a momentary reflex, however, and a dangerous one. If we run or escape or hide, if we no longer take ourselves or our children to Christmas parades, they win. They do not win.
Let’s add to our thanks some extra blessings and strength for the people of Waukesha this Thanksgiving. Let’s be reminded as we gather to give thanks that these bonds with our family and friends and the greater communities where we live out our lives are strong and binding and cannot be grenaded into oblivion by a random or planned act of violence.