Illinois’ HIGHLAND PARK — The aftermath of a mass shooting that left seven people dead and numerous others injured still leaves Highland Park in a state of trauma and grief.
While it’s customary for people to try to heal by comforting and consoling one another, two artists traveled across the nation to show those in grief that facing loss head-on is just as important.
Since 49 people were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, Noah Reich, 33, and his partner David Maldonado, 34, have traveled the nation on a trail of tragedy.
8-year-old boy shot in Highland Park parade is in critical condition.
Reich referred to this as “honoring the victims lost in these senseless tragedies.”
The pair was most recently in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York.
As artists, Reich said, “we continue to feel the magnitude of the tragedy as we create these pieces.” Therefore, whether it involves creating 10 pieces in Buffalo, 22 in Uvalde, or 7 here, the goal is to give each of these lives its own space as well as provide a place for their families to pay tribute to them.
In a heartbreaking moment, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and President Joe Biden were moved to touch the photos of each victim at each altar after seeing the young faces.
“Seeing their faces makes the point clearer. According to Highland Park resident Eric Freibrun, “You look in their eyes and you’re reminded that they’re real people, not just names on a list of casualties.”
An altar is a location for prayer, meditation, and acts of sacrifice.
These are the victims of the shooting at the Highland Park parade.
Since the shooting, I haven’t been here, Freibrun said. I was present when it occurred.
According to Reich, who claims to be the grandson of Holocaust survivors, Highland Park has a sizable Jewish population. As a result, he brought stones to place on the alters, which is a Jewish custom that represents the permanence of memory in the face of life’s transience.
According to Reich, “as Jews, how do we create a space where we can go and also be reflected in these mourning traditions, so the tradition of putting a rock is a grieving tradition that we do as Jews to honor our loved ones and our loss.”
In the hours following the shooting on Monday night in Los Angeles, the queer couple created the altars.
They were taken to the parade route and left there this morning, while law enforcement officials searched for evidence a short distance away behind a police cordon. Once-commonplace items like strollers and coolers are now standing as potent symbols of a divided community.
The Highland Park police chief discusses the fatal parade shooting as “a devastating feeling.”
Because of this, Reich and Maldonado also wanted to place the faces of loss at this corner.
It’s more than a number, According to Reich, “It is a life and that person who has a family, a community they were a part of. There are families they were a part of who will spend their entire lives attempting to make sense of what happened on Monday because of the ripple effects of these seven people’s lives no longer being here.
Reich hopes that the victims’ names and faces will be remembered long after the shooter’s identity has been forgotten.