Friday, April 03, 2009
Strength and Healing for Binghamton NY
My brother called me from San Francisco midday today to inform me that our hometown of Binghamton, NY was dominating CNN. Since the call I've been riveted to CNN, watching the horrific scenes from "home".
How unbelievable that the latest episode in our country's spate of senseless shootings has placed Binghamton NY on the map for the first time ever. The American Civic Association in Binghamton helps immigrants in the area with citizenship, resettlement and family reunification. The shootings took place in a neighborhood of homes and small businesses in downtown Binghamton, a city of about 47,000 residents.
The Binghamton area was the home to Endicott-Johnson shoe company and the birthplace of IBM, which between them employed tens of thousands of workers before the shoe company closed a decade ago and IBM downsized in recent years. My father worked at IBM; my aunt and uncle worked at the shoes factory. Early news reports stated that the gunman had recently been fired from IBM, although the investigation is still in its early stages. The gunman's house was in Johnson City, the village adjacent to Binghamton. Johnson City is where I grew up. The high school under lockdown which CNN kept referring to was Binghamton Central, where as a teen I rehearsed with the Binghamton Youth Symphony. The 4 critically wounded victims are being treated at Lourdes Hospital, where my mother worked, and at Wilson Medical Center which is 2 blocks from the house I grew up in.
Under different circumstances, I would have been delighted to see familiar sights from home being broadcast over the media. I have been homesick for a long time- I miss the rolling hills which CNN showed in the background today. I miss the ethnic flavor of the place. I miss the diversity. I miss the east coast feel. I miss the accent- mine is fading.
But most of all, I'm shocked. CNN just announced that until today, Binghamton had only one homicide during the past year! It had been rated one of the safest places in the U.S. Can you imagine how the city is reeling!?
Posted by B.S. at Friday, April 03, 2009