Von Maur Shooting Memorial

On December 5, 2007 in Omaha, NE, nine people died at the Von Maur Department store. Eight were shot by Robert Hawkins, the ninth victim was Hawkins himself, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Omaha was shocked by this violent act, and nine families lost someone they loved. Omahans reacted to these deaths in many ways, bringing food to the families, offering to help in any way they could, creating a fund to help the families, praying for them at the many church ceremonies that have been held and showing their love by creating a memorial on the steps of the Von Maur store.

The Von Maur store has been closed since the event, but will reopen it’s doors on Thursday, December 20th. Victims and survivors of the Von Maur shootings and their families will be honored during a brief ceremony at the store’s south entrance.

Dozens of teddy bears, hundreds of notes and thousands of handmade snowflakes cover the three entrances to Von Maur. They have become like sacred places in the past two weeks, drawing people in for long, quiet whisperings to each other, and, often tears. This happened to nine of our own, and we cry for them and their families.

This afternoon, Wednesday, December 19, the Douglas County Historical Society staff and volunteers will remove memorials to the victims and survivors. Like a family packing away heirloom holiday decorations after the festivities end, as many as 45 trained volunteers will gingerly remove and stow the colorful memorials that blossomed at Westroads Mall after one of Omaha’s saddest days. All will be stashed in plastic bins and saved. So will all the other items that can be preserved - teddy bears, poems and even some petals from the mounds of flowers piled on Von Maur’s south steps.

Westroads Mall will store the bins after the items have been sorted into categories and the victims’and survivors’ families will be invited to look through the items and take what they felt they would mean something special to them. The remainder will be given to the historical society to preserve.

As one of the regular Von Maur shoppers said, “It was appropriate to take down the memorials now and a good idea to preserve them. I think this is something we will never forget. We will never forget that day”

Neither will the rest of us.

No comments: