In a world that virtually can’t stop producing a rushing river of abhorrent news, Aurora’s final response to one of the biggest catastrophes to plague the community and the nation provides a respite from a world of awful.
Six years after University of Colorado student James Holmes sneaked into the Century 16 theater in Aurora and unleashed a hailstorm of bullets and horror, the community continues to grapple with the calamity.
Last week, a permanent memorial was unveiled.
During the July 20, 2012 massacre, 12 people were shot dead. Another 70 were injured from the gunfire. Even more were assaulted with just the sheer terror of the attack. And tens of thousands of us were knocked back by the waves of horror rippling across Aurora.
The outside world cannot know the deep agony parents, friends and families of the dead and wounded will bear for the rest of their lives.
The outside world can only imagine what it’s like to be at ground zero of a ferocious shooting attack, which have since become almost commonplace in this country.
Each time a school, a nightclub, a concert, an office or a mall is attacked by someone with an arsenal of firepower, the horror in Aurora becomes as fresh as it was six years ago. But from all that anguish, a memorial was dedicated Friday that is much more than just a tribute to lives lost and injured.
The massive sculpture and surrounding gardens, dubbed “Ascentiate” by artist Douwe Blumberg, is an astonishing explanation of how a community might begin to get past and heal from a once unimaginable catastrophe.
Six years past that horrific night, Aurora has learned that the pain doesn’t fade, it evolves.
Rather than creating a sentimental exposition that is a permanent record of the attack, Blumberg has created a piece of art that helps those from inside and outside of Aurora define what happened that night, and ever since.
The sculpture is a vast collection of cranes, swirling among themselves and focused on a few that appear to be moving away from the rest.
There’s really no reason to read anything more than that into the artwork, although the sculpture offers a feast of metaphors.
The memorial is a place for reflection for those directly and distantly touched by the attack. And as Aurora moves further away from the massacre, reflection will be an integral part of closure. Closure for the victims here, and closure for a nation that can’t stop the flood of mass shootings.
From something horrific, comes something good.