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!?


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Nancy said...

I, unfortunately, once again, was in total disbelief as I continued to watch this story unfold.

I'm so sorry you had to "revisit" your hometown in this way.

We all need to pray for healing ... for Binghamton and the future of this country. And individually, put into action what we pray for.


Betty said...

Dear Nancy,

Amen. The entire country is in crisis and each individual is needed to participate in the healing process.


Lynilu said...

If we could understand why, there would be hope for a better future. I'm so sad that these things happen. I'm sad we don't know how to make our world humane. And I'm sad you had to add this to the memory of your hometown. It is hard to have the hometown image smeared. Hugs to you, our hugging friend.

Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

The latest info about the shooter is that he was angry over losing his job (now they say it was at a vacuum factory or store) and over being teased for poor English.

I guess the solution lies with each individual. We each are responsible for our fellows- for treating them with dignity, respect and understanding.

I know from my father that some "natives" in the Binghamton area were intolerant of the Asian immigrants. The irony is that those "natives" were themselves immigrants, or descendants of immigrants, from Europe, especially Italy and the Slavic countries, during the early decades of the 1900's. Binghamton has always been a magnet for immigrants.


SweetAnnee said...

Tis a sad way to view your old hometown.

We need more GOD in our country.

lovingly, Deena

Betty said...

Dear Deena,

You're right.

And if more of us would take the time to live as you do, savoring life, constantly observing with appreciation, things would be much different.


surjit said...

It was, of course, an unfortunate incident.My prayers are for those suffered in this ghastly incident.
God bless.

Betty said...

Dear Surjit,

I have heard from people in Binghamton about how appreciative they are of our prayers. The whole city is in shock.


2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Really devastating.

Betty said...

Dear 2nd Cup,

You're not kidding!


natasha said...

Watch Natsha Naked!

Monogram Queen said...

It's hard to imagine something like that happening at "home" isn't it. I used to work with a girl named Darcy who was from Binghampton and she has since moved back.
My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy.

Betty said...

Dear Patti,

Yes, it's hard to imagine this happening at "home." For some reason, it made me even more homesick. I was proud of the way people there were handling as best they could. I was also sorry to see the police department being criticized, when it's clear that no more lives were lost due to their waiting.


Anonymous said...

Yes...I saw it on the news...I
had to change the channel because
I couldn't take anything sad...

What is this country coming to...
Makes me scared...



Helga Vonlunch-Box said...

I saw it on the news...It is sad
to think that there are people like
that out there in this world...
Hope you are doing good :)


'Helga Vonlunch-Box'

Big Dave T said...

It seems like there has been a scourge of senseless shootings lately. I attribute much of it to our gun culture here in the U.S. Even those who come from other countries learn pretty quickly that violence and guns are the way many people deal with personal problems here.

Betty said...

Dear Laurie,

I don't blame you for not watching it. It's impossible to not be affected by it.


Betty said...

Dear Helga,

Welcome to bettyland. Nice to meet you.


Betty said...

Dear Dave,

I wonder-what is it going to take to bring about a change in this gun culture? When is enough enough?