The Toll of a Bell


©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

A reverend and community activist sheds a tear as she listens to a long and weary list of Chicago students who have been lost to gun violence in the past year. It was at a press conference at Fenger High School in which a bell was rung for every name that was called out. She was standing off to the side, out of immediate view.  I was unprepared for this woman’s tear, which emerged from the shadows.  I had been briefly distracted by the theatrics of the bell they were using in front of television cameras,  its parallels to other moments of mourning in our nation,  and the staged mechanics of a press conference.  For me it was a quiet reminder of the deep emotional realities at stake, helping to ground the moment.

Alex Garcia

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