A July 4th I Will Never Forget

JACPAC Director Marcia Balonick speaking in favor of Highland Park's proposed assault weapons ban at a city hearing in 2013.
A July 4th I Will Never Forget
-- JAC Executive Director Marcia Balonick

One minute I was walking in the parade with my family. The marching band was playing. Then the bullets came. The music stopped and we were running for our lives. That was 4th of July in Highland Park, IL, a day that shattered my sense of peace in the community I have called home for 42 years and where JAC has had its national office for 40 years.

I can still hear people screaming and yelling "gunfire." There was confusion and panic everywhere. We just started running, hoping we were running away from the bullets and desperately hoping to find safety.

Yesterday, I was so excited to participate in the Highland Park parade with my family. I have lived in this community for 42 years and the parade is a summer tradition. We have attended numerous parades over the years, bringing our children and now grandchildren. Walking the parade route with the high school band, local officials, and others was an honor.

Now that memory is one of terror and tragedy. Grief and anger.

My mind keeps going over and over every detail of yesterday and all the horrific what ifs. What about the young children who were at that parade? What nightmares will haunt them? How will the families that were shattered ever find comfort in this world again? 

Being involved with JAC, I have worked on gun violence prevention issues in my community and the nation for more than 10 years. I have spoken with gun violence survivors. I have advocated for safe gun laws on Capitol Hill. JAC is even part of a gun violence prevention task force, working with national groups on gun violence. I thought I knew and understood the severity of the situation. But nothing prepared me for bloodshed on the streets where I walk for coffee and I take my grandchildren for ice cream.

I am scared. I am angry. I am outraged. But my commitment to ending the killing is even deeper. I want to make sure that there is never another parade, school classroom, grocery store, or house of worship that is riddled with bullets.

We CAN do something and we WILL do something if YOU join with me. We must, must, must elect Democratic Senators from across the country who will put actions behind all the thoughts and prayers to PASS an ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN. We are only a couple Blue seats away from this reality. Turn your anger into action.

These are JAC’s top Senate races. Donate to JAC so we can help elect them to Congress. This is our only hope.

Josh Fetterman (D-PA)

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA)

Be safe,