Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A moment of silence

       Juneau, the town we love and call home, has suffered a tragedy. No, no one died, but something very precious to a lot of people was callously destroyed Monday evening. A playground that was built by the community back in 2007, involving hundreds of people and thousands of man-hours, was set ablaze. This wasn't just any playground. It really was a magical place, utilized by a majority of the community. There are photos of it all over the place--all you have to do is type in "Project Playground Juneau" to see them. If I can find any of my own, I'll add them to this post. Swings, slides, an ice castle, a play fishing boat, tunnels, boardwalks--this description doesn't do it justice. This park was a real center to our community. There were always kids running about, thoroughly enjoying its wonders and delights.
      I got the news from a friend at about 6:00 Monday evening. I felt shock, sadness, and outrage as I looked at the photos and watched my Facebook feed blow up. I didn't realize how much my kids would feel the loss. My son, especially, stomped around, saying, "Why would someone do such a thing, Mom?" Both the big kids said, "That's my favorite playground. And now it's gone." Sentiments being repeated around homes all over Juneau.
      Joe drove by the park on his way to a meeting last night and told me there were people gathered everywhere. Cars were stopped on the side of the highway, nearly every fire department vehicle in town was there. One would think someone of great importance had died and the town had convened to mourn. Not too terribly far from the truth.
      I was perusing Facebook this morning and came across a post by an acquaintance. She wrote a poem about this very real loss and I believe it expresses what most of us are probably feeling more than anything else I could say would. I will let her words end this post.

Smoke still curls, 
Charred bones remaining of buildings that 
Brought this borough together not so long ago. 
Cars line the street, 
Crimson flashing reflections in 
Motionless mirrors.
Children's hands and their laughter Float like ghosts in that
Space, empty and hollow.
Amber caution tape sways
Wider than the burned seats of swings,
Metal bars blackened.
Plastic flutters in the wind.
We cannot put out the flames with
Fear, or the
Tears that stream down.
Justice will not return
Wonder to Juneau's children's eyes, Imagination set free among
Castles and boats and joy.
Green grass, laid bare and burnt, will grow again.
But we must not stay so idle.

-Kristina Paulick

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