Over the past year, Roseburg, and Douglas County, have been tested like never before.

We’ve experienced the worst tragedy in our history. We’ve faced down the uncomfortable beam of the national spotlight. We’ve suffered unbearable loss. We’ve discovered that when people are gunned down in our town, most of us are no more than one or two personal connections away from at least one of the victims.

We’ve discovered that life can be much shorter than we thought, and that we should live each day as if it were our last. Because it might be.

We’ve discovered that we are not immune to the tragedies that affect other, bigger communities.

We’ve discovered that there are people so committed to political causes they will use our town’s suffering as an excuse to champion them.

And we’ve discovered that there are things that bind us that are stronger than differences of politics or creed.

Over the past week, we’ve gathered together in remembrance of lives lost. We should remember their names always: Treven Anspach, Larry Levine, Lucas Eibel, Quinn Cooper, Rebecka Carnes, Lucero Alcaraz, Jason Johnson, Kim Dietz, Sarena Moore.

They deserved to live long and happy lives. Our hearts go out to their families.

We raised a memorial, paused for moments of silence, and ran to raise money for the victims and their families because that’s the part that was left to us. That, and the pledge that we will do whatever we can to prevent anything like this from ever happening in our community again.

We must do what it takes to treat mental illness, to encourage religious tolerance, to reach out to those who are isolated or angry and to report those who appear to be headed down dark roads from which they and their victims might not return.

Our best examples in this time of trouble have been those people who responded to tragedy by asking, “How can I help?” People who printed T-shirts, created wines and signs, raised money for the injured survivors and the victims’ families.

Through them, we have discovered that we are all UCC, and that we are strong.

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