The tragedy of the deaths of Holly Wimunc and Megan Touma has left a hole in our community — and it should have. We are a community that prides itself on taking care of our soldiers, and two of them have died painful, needless deaths, and we couldn’t protect them.
    That same story is being played out across the United States. Women of all ages and walks of life are dying senseless, needless deaths, and it’s usually at the hands of someone they know — intimately. That only makes their deaths more horrific.
    Both of these women’s lives were, according to their friends, bright with promise. What they could have accomplished will remain a question mark, one left in rage.{mosimage}
    What their deaths have also brought to this community is a horde of media attention. People are putting our community under a microscope, picking it apart and trying to see where we’ve fallen down. We’ve fallen no further than any other community in our nation. One has only to pick up the newspaper or turn on the news and hear the same tragic story unfold … in communities in California, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania. Violence against women knows no boundaries.
    In our community, unfortunately, many people are trying to tie the women’s service in the military with their deaths — that isn’t the case. As one national media outlet questioned, “Is the Army training people to be killers?” In case they missed it, the two soldiers were the ones killed. That same media outlet questioned whether Fayetteville was tired of the violence caused by the military — again, the violence was done to members of the military — as is the case in the majority of crimes in our community.
    It’s bad enough when people who are not a part of our community come here for a couple of days and pass judgments on our community that are not based on fact. It’s worse when it comes from within.
    Recent headlines in the Fayetteville Observer have painted a bleak picture of our community. They have pandered to fear and have sensationalized the deaths of these two women. That’s disappointing. The Observer is a well-respected newspaper, one that should have our community’s interest at its center. But it’s a business as well, and fear sells.
    A recent article talked about the number of military wives living in fear — locking themselves in their homes. The Observer reporter talked to a couple of women, neither of whom wished to be named, who had nothing good to say about our community. I imagine these are women who reside here — they don’t live here.
    There’s a difference.
    People who reside here do it with a degree of snobbery. They make the trek from the mall to their apartments, from their apartments to Fort Bragg, and turn their nose up at our community. They don’t contribute anything while they are here, and as one woman noted, look longingly at the road out of town. It’s their loss.
    There are others who actually live here. They join churches and clubs. They go to community events, volunteer and have an impact on our community. They are the heart and soul of our community.
    They know that our community is more than a series of sensational headlines, they recognize the truth — that violence occurs in every community — and that it cannot define a community. A community has to be defined by the people who live in it — not those who just pass through.

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