In the 90’s, I remember hearing the phrase “Going Postal” used as almost amusing hyperbole when someone seemed a little too upset about what felt like a minor issue. I remember hearing about unbelievable incidents in passing, trying to explain them away with “ifs, ands, or buts” that protected my sense of safety, and then half-shrugging. But “Going Postal” was never amusing or hyperbole for those directly affected by incidents of gun violence that occurred in or around U.S. Post Offices. Montclair included.
About a month ago, the daughter of Scott Walensky, one of the Montclair Post Office shooting victims, left a message on an old blog post here, and it really hit home (again) how deeply and for how long friends and family and communities of those taken by gun violence feel the loss.
That afternoon shook up the sense of safety in a town that, as a community, didn’t HAVE to confront daily threats of gun violence. It sparked activism in locals, bringing about the North Jersey Ceasefire group and inspiring life-long activism in young people who now have careers in gun violence prevention.
The ten-year anniversary of the shooting was memorialized in a large ceremony that included dozens of mail trucks and a dedication. In later years, depending on local involvement, there have been smaller events, or none at all. However, a wreath is usually displayed at the (relatively) new Watchung Plaza post office on Watchung Avenue.
This year, I hope a few people will at least hold a moment today about the tragedy of four people lost, Ernest Spruill, Scott Walensky, Robert Leslie, and George Lomaga, and one person who survived being shot, David Grossman, 23 years ago.
And perhaps it will help us all realize that gun violence is a scourge that is not new, but it is also not impenetrable if we follow our shock, pain, and sorrow with action. See links below for helpful ideas to ACT on your values.