DUNDALK, Md. - They've felt a pain no parent ever wants to imagine. They are parents whose children have been victims of murder. But together they find strength with an annual event that brings the tragically bonded closer to healing.
You'll find their faces on a t-shirt and hear their stories from the mothers who lost them too soon. Bernice Johnson lost her daughter, Baltimore City police officer Leslie Holliday, just before Christmas more than six years ago. She says, "Her boyfriend went to the house, shot the new boyfriend and her."
And on that December day in 2005, Johnson became a member of a club no mother ever wants to join. She became the parent of a murdered child, a description she wishes she never had to face, "Some days are okay. Some days are not okay. It's hard."
But on the days Johnson struggles, she and the others who gathered Sunday at the park at Turners Station in Baltimore County, have each other to lean on. It is here that members of Mothers of Murdered Sons (and daughters) gathers each year. Organizer Mildred Samy, whose son, Samuel Horne, was murdered in 2007, says, "It's a shame this organization is growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. It’s not something we're particularly proud of. But it was necessary to do it to help parents with this pain."
To cope with the pain, the group holds an annual cookout and memorial. They honor those lost and sadly, welcome new parents who've come to join their ranks. Daphne Alston, whose son Tariq Alston was murdered four years ago in Edgewood, explains, "We want to take those tears and turn them into something positive, that's what our goal is."
In hopes of meeting their goals, members of the group meet up and also take their message to the community, trying to spread a message of anti-violence. Moms like Alston and Samy use the tragic stories of their own children, hoping the message hits home enough to keep someone else’s’ child from the same fate. Samy says, "This murder, this violence, it has to stop."
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