The event, sponsored and created by Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair, also served as the unveiling of the memorial fountain for the crime victims.
Those gathered heard from several speakers, including Miriam Shehane, whose daughter was killed at Birmingham Southern many years ago, prompting Shehane to become a staunch advocate of victim’s rights and found Victims of Crime and Leniency, a group to lobby for the rights of victims and their families.
Attendees also heard from Walker County Circuit Clerk Susie Odom, who recounted surviving a violent crime when she was just 12 years old, and her first trip into the Walker County Courthouse for the trial.
“I remember the tears in my mother’s eyes and the pain in my father’s voice,” Odom said. “They were hurting for me. My strength then came from God and my parents and it still does.”
Odom encouraged the families and victims to make the decision to be stronger than whatever happened to them and to refuse to let the violence take over their lives.
“This memorial fountain doesn’t just stand for murder victims, but it stands for all victims of violent crime,” Adair said.
The water pours from a stainless steel bowl that is mounted over plaques dedicating the fountain to those who have fallen victim to crime in the area. The water then spills into a basin lined with small slate tiles and surrounded by engraved granite that honors victims by name.
There are also commemorative bricks in the walkway surrounding the fountain.
When the fountain was unveiled, the lights came on and the water began to flow, many family members broke down in tears.