September 25th is the national day of remembrance for all murdered victims. This year will mark the fifth year of a national day of remembrance to those victims our nation lost to murder. Communities across the nation will hold services throughout the day to remember loved ones who were murdered. Some will be candlelight vigils, some will have guest speakers and others will have moments of silence.

For the families and friends of murdered victims, this day sends a powerful message. Our country cares and will remember those lives cut short. A national day of remembrance also reminds the nation that there are hundreds and hundreds of lives altered by murder each and every year.

In Indianapolis, where I live, the service is held at a different church every year. Every year, a table is placed at the front of the church with several votive candles on the table. Each year, the number of candles varies. Each candle represents a life lost to murder that occurred in the city between September 1st of the previous year through August 31st of the current year.

Last yea,r in my city, there were 110 candles on the table — 110 candles too many. The name of each victim is read and the family is invited to come forward and light the candle. If the family is not able to be in attendance, the staff of the victim assistants unit of the local police department lights the candle.

This year will be the third year I attend the service. The first year I attended with my other two sisters. We sat together, bracing for the moment they read our sister’s name. When the time came, the three of us walked to the table and together lit the candle for our sister.

It was a touching, tender, emotional time. None of us wanted to be there, yet we were there with many other people all for the same reason. I continue to attend the service each year to offer support and hope to the “new” families whose lives have been changed forever.

So today, I ask my Open to Hope family to find some time to take a moment of silence or to light a candle in support of all the people of our great nation that lost their lives to murder and for their family and friends who continue to struggle as they find their way along the journey of loss.


Shirley Wiles-Dickinson

Shirley Wiles-Dickinson is the youngest of four girls in a Midwestern family. In 2009, her sister was brutally murdered. She writes about her experience following this loss.

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