By Jordan Cohen
More than 60 attended the annual event in Warren’s Courthouse Square.
WARREN — Each year in late September, they come together in Warren to observe the memories of their loved ones lost to violence.
More than 60 met Sunday at the Log Cabin in Courthouse Square to light candles and launch balloons containing the names of the victims.
“I’m here because this is more like family,” said Josephine Daniel of Warren, whose son, Joseph Daniel, 33, was shot to death in 2007. “These people understand you better than anyone who hasn’t lost a child the way we have.”
April Guy of Hubbard came with other members of her family to mourn her 15-year-old nephew, Robert Flynn of Masury, who was killed during an altercation in Hubbard Township last month.
“We want to do everything we can to remember him and to keep his memory alive,” Guy said.
The Warren observance was part of the annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, which was founded by the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children. Some of the parents and grandparents wore T-shirts with pictures of their murdered children. Others brought photos and placed them on tables in the cabin.
Several parents said they are still fighting to seek justice for their children — and that means keeping killers in prison.
“He should not be set free,” said Nella Flack of Struthers, referring to one of the killers of her son who is eligible for parole. “I’ve petitioned for a full [parole] board hearing to try to stop it.”
Her son, Tobey, and his girlfriend were shot to death in August 1994.
One of the active members of the Trumbull County Chapter, Miriam Fife, whose 12-year-old son was murdered in 1985, has actively opposed efforts to block the execution of her son’s killer, Danny Lee Hill, who has been on Ohio’s death row since 1986. Sunday, however, Fife asked the parents to consider the day as a time for celebrating rather than mourning the lives of the lost.
“It’s a beautiful day for remembering our loved ones. They’re always in our hearts,” Fife said.
The group moved from the cabin to nearby Veterans Memorial Park for the release of balloons, each tagged with the name of a victim. Before the balloons were launched, Flack read a poem she found on the Internet.
Among the lines: “We watch as the balloons float away just like when you left us that day.”
Some of the balloons did not get far as the winds blew them into a tree near the Trumbull County Courthouse, bringing perhaps the only laughter that was heard from the families during the observance. The others floated high above the courthouse shortly after Flack completed the last lines of the poem.
“So receive the balloons with gentle care. They symbolize the love that is still here.”