Editor’s Note: The following, written by Jemelene Wilson, a Douglas County Moms blogger (now Family section), was originally posted online on Oct. 2, 2015. It drew worldwide readership. It is being reprinted here.
Before yesterday most of you had never heard of the city of Roseburg. Now when you hear that name you will link us to the tragedy that happened on our small community college campus yesterday.
That is not who we are.
We are a logging community tucked into a beautiful valley with some of the most beautiful tree covered hills you’ve ever seen.
The waters of the Umpqua River flow through our town and Umpqua Community College sits above its banks.
The same interstate that brought reporters and government officials is the same road that’s welcomed back our own Charlie Company from more than one tour protecting our nation.
Our children bring their livestock to show at the county fair on the same fairgrounds that welcomed busloads of students to frantic families anxious to see them step off the bus. Local pastors, relief workers and counselors were waiting too.
The Thursday night sky filled with candlelight in the park where music fills the air every summer on a blanket covered hill.
In July, our streets fill with classic cars as families line the sidewalks of downtown, waiting for a history to roll by. The same streets rocked by an explosion more than 50 years ago.
On Veterans Day, those same streets welcome war heroes, marching bands and flag waving children, sometimes in pouring rain.
Photographs of the injured being rolled into the hospital doesn’t tell the whole story either.
Most of our babies have been born at Mercy and lives are saved there everyday, not just the tragic ones.
Umpqua Community College is the place where too many will remember for the wrong reasons. You won’t speak of the thousands of graduates who’ve learned to be nurses, dental assistants and anything that would put them back to work in our once thriving timber economy.
We’ll still show up at Jacoby Auditorium as it fills with local actors and musicians throughout the year.
In July, the track on campus fills with walkers as we join the Relay for Life.
There is so much more to remember about us than the day this tragedy tore into our lives and changed our community forever.
Today you will hear names and get to know a small bit of who we lost.
We will hear the names and feel the loss.
After the media is gone, we will still be here. We will return to celebrating in our streets, dancing in our parks and holding each other up when they are too weak to stand.
As the story continues to unfold and details emerge and you speak the name of our city please remember this, our city and college is not the name of a tragedy.
We are not here to provide an argument for your agenda or to be on a horrible list somewhere.
We are here because Roseburg is our home and that is the one thing about us that can’t be changed.