Montgomery County residents touched by the killing of loved ones filled council chambers Tuesday night for a solemn vigil remembering homicide victims. The ceremony, now in its 28th year, is a way for Victims Services Center of Montgomery County to offer hope and healing to those affected by these tragic and untimely deaths.
Unfortunately, since last year’s ceremony, 25 additional names have been added to the list of nearly 300 — including 31 law enforcement officials — memorialized by the nonprofit victims’ advocacy group over the past three decades, writes Oscar Gamble in The Times Herald.
From the opening presentation of Colors by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard to the closing roll call of the victim’s memorial commemoration, the vigil gave family and friends of the fallen an opportunity to come together and remember, with the assurance that the community remembers as well.
Victim Services Center Executive Director Mary Onama said Victim Services Center reaches out to the victims’ families or gets connected to them through law enforcement. The organization helps the families navigate through the criminal justice system and provides counseling and advocacy services.
“We also help them to apply for crime victims’ compensation, and for those who have difficulty with funeral arrangements, we work with them to get some funds,” Onama added.
Each year, the location of the vigil changes to be closer to a community affected by homicide. Last year, it was held in Montgomery Township where Robert Braxton III was shot and killed while attending Sunday services at Keystone Fellowship Church in April 2016.
Upper Merion was chosen this year to be near the family and friends of Alyssa Kenny and her young daughter Anastasia who were killed in March 2016 in Galax, Va. but came from Norristown.