Binghamton marks the 10th anniversary of its most horrific tragedy.
A series of events are planned for today to mark 10 years since a gunman entered the American Civic Association on Front Street and massacred 13 people, many of them recent immigrants taking an English class.
After the ACA and the Crime Victims Assistance Center held a news conference outside the ACA this morning, many people processed down Front Street to the Memorial Park to join members of the victims’ families for their annual remembrance ceremony.
The families conceived of the park and raised the money to have it built on city property.
This morning, some of them shared memories of their lost loved ones.
Son of Bobbie King, Dr. Jeffrey King says, “My mother, so full of life and energy, a very special person, mother of 10, interested in everyone and everything and beloved by many. She had just told her friend, who had dropped her off that morning, ‘I love this building.'”
Daughter of Maria “Mima” Zobniw, Oresta Lisowsky says, “Mima inspired us with her abundant generosity, selfless volunteerism, strength of character, gentle spirit and good humor. But most of all, she comforted us as a great listener who always had time to ease our problems and heal our hurts.
Husband of Layla Khalil, Samir Khalil says, “She was a librarian, she worked in the library and she went to the class just to improve her language and to communicate with other people to find a job and socializing as well.”
Husband of Mao Hong Xiu, David Marsland says, “A happy joyful person who lived her dream. And I wish that everybody who hears my voice, would go out today, love each other and do exactly the same thing.”
The glass birds at the park were recently reinforced and the city installed a sidewalk behind the memorial.
The families invited current Mayor Rich David and Matt Ryan who was Mayor at the time of the mass shooting to address the crowd.
Some remarked that while the rest of the world seems to no longer remember the tragedy, Binghamton will never forget.
Former Mayor Matt Ryan says, “We can’t do anything about what happened that day but we can always remember the lives that were lost. We can always celebrate what they accomplished while they were alive. And comfort those who lost their loved ones.”
Mayor David read the names of all 13 victims. “Parveen Ali, Almir Alves, Marc Bernard, Maria Sonia Bernard, Li Guo, Lan Ho, Layla Khalil, Roberta King, Jiang Ling, Mao Hong Xiu, Dolores Yigal, Haihong Zhong and Maria Zobniw.”
The families have established a fund through the Community Foundation of South Central New York to pay for ongoing upkeep of the memorial.
Donations can be made at DonorsWhoCare.org