For­ever al­tered

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - PERSPECTIVE - For on­line exclusive let­ters go to Send let­ters by email to ctc-TribLet­ter@chicagotri­bune.com or to Voice of the Peo­ple, Chicago Tri­bune, 160 N. Stet­son Ave., Third Floor, Chicago, IL 60601. In­clude your name, ad­dress and phone num­ber.

I grew up in a fam­ily of paci­fists whose be­liefs were deeply rooted in Catholic so­cial teach­ings. My fa­ther and mother were both so­cial work­ers. We were raised to be­lieve in equal­ity and jus­tice for ev­ery­one. But those be­liefs and teach­ings are not a bul­let­proof shield. Nor was liv­ing in a tight-knit ru­ral com­mu­nity.

Thirty years ago this month a lone gun­man knocked on our front door and shot my fa­ther when he an­swered. My fa­ther died within min­utes of be­ing shot. And his shooter got into his car as he sped to an­other man’s home and shot him. In all, he shot four peo­ple that Novem­ber evening, driv­ing the dark ru­ral roads of New Hamp­shire and Maine. It was pre­med­i­tated. He was lash­ing out at so­cial work­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors who had “wronged” him. Hav­ing been fired from his job a year ear­lier, he or­ches­trated an elab­o­rate plan to tar­get all of the state work­ers he be­lieved were re­spon­si­ble for his failed ca­reer in so­cial ser­vices. Armed with mul­ti­ple guns and uni­form-look­ing cloth­ing, he drove to each per­son’s home and shot them. Three sur­vived, my fa­ther did not. Nor did the shooter. He killed him­self as the po­lice chased him down a road en route to an­other tar­get’s home.

My fa­ther be­lieved his en­tire adult life that he would die be­fore he turned 45. He was 44. I was 17 and my sis­ter, who was in the house at the time of the shoot­ing, was 14. Our lives were for­ever al­tered. The state of Maine hon­ored my fa­ther in many ways, but that is lit­tle con­so­la­tion as I watch my two sons to grow into amaz­ing young men and wish my fa­ther was next to me wit­ness­ing the magic. He would have loved be­ing a grand­fa­ther. He would be fu­ri­ous with the cur­rent state of our union. He would be march­ing in the streets against the gun vi­o­lence and hate crimes that de­fine this cen­tury so far. On Nov.13, it will be 30 years since his sense­less death. I dream of him most nights even now.

— Emily Twarog Miller, Skokie

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