Ornament-hanging ceremony recognizes violence victims
Victims of violence, their families, and local elected officials gathered around a Christmas tree at the downtown Chattanooga courthouse Tuesday morning for an ornament-hanging ceremony.
The Christmas tree is called the "Season of Remembrance" and each ornament is meant to be hung in memory of those who have died in violent crimes or in honor of crime survivors.
"Brings tears to my eyes to see so many people working to bring awareness to this issue. It's really important," said Jennifer White.
For Jennifer White, this isn't just any Christmas tree. It's a sign of survival branching out a strong sense of hope.
"I hung an ornament in honor of my children," White said. "They're stronger than they think they are."
White was abused for ten years. This Christmas, she and others like Deana Lane are away from the hurt and closer to healing.
"The more people know, the more they can survive and perhaps not be in my shoes," Lane said.
"At Christmas time things can come back to you and it's important to remember where you're at and that you can come out and not be afraid," said Kate Murry.
Kate Murry said Christmas can be a tough time for victims of violence and their families. SHe should know. Murry, once a victim, said she's not a survivor. And she said, in healing, that's an important transition that can be made possible by one little ornament.
"It means that I have a place. I belong and I'm important," she said.
"It is an opportunity to remember those we love," said Regina McDevitt, Director of Crisis Services at Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. " The ceremony not only brings attention to the prevalence and severity of these crimes but also calls for everyone in our communities to stop the violence."
The tree will stay the courthouse building during the holiday season. You're invited to hang an ornament during courthouse hours.