Dear America, 
It was a dark and stormy night…..
Only it wasn’t.  The day was beautiful – sunny and warm, but it wasn’t long before my world became dark and stormy.
My siblings and I are part of a “large” family - seven children born and raised in Chicago.   My mom was endearingly called Pickles.  My dad was Bing – he loved singing.
Pickles and Bing, children of the depression with no high school diplomas, were determined their children would receive a higher education. They were proud when their firstborn, Diane, graduated nursing school, then St. Louis University, and earned a Master’s Degree in Midwifery.  As time went on, Diane married and had four beautiful girls.
In June, 1986, Diane visited my brother, Ron, and me, her Eastern siblings.  We ate ice cream on the boardwalk, rode waves at the beach, toured New York.  The main reason for the visit was to plan a celebration for our parents’ 50th upcoming wedding anniversary. We did and we were ready!
Diane never attended that celebration.  Early morning, July 19, 1986, as she exited her car by her church, she was shot and killed. An intentional killing that continues to have repercussions -33 years later.
Following a tragedy like this a few things happen:  Melanie, youngest sister, had to identify the police picture of Diane with a bullet in her head;  upon returning immediately from vacationing, my parents had to go to the morgue to identify their firstborn’s body; Diane’s blood soaked glasses are brought home for Bob and me to clean. – for the casket.
 Diane never saw her girls get married, she never held a grandchild in her arms, and oh, how Diane would have loved them!  And they her!  Our family has never been the same.  The joy in being together was lost for many, many years. I never wanted to take a picture all together because we weren’t ALL together any more.  Displaced anger abounded.  Unrelenting grief.  The pain never goes away.  My mom cried so much she had to have retina surgery.  And my dad….never sang again.
I can tell you facts like 100 people a day die in America from gun violence.  As a citizen of the United States, you are 12 times more likely to die by gun compared to any other industrialized country.  And more and more. This fact is personal.  My sister was taken from us.
I believe we all think of Diane daily.  We each carry our own precious memories – of her goodness, her love, her contagious laugh.  In her honor and memory, we fight to prevent gun violence.  My brother, Bob, sister, Candy, (pictured with me) and I are fellows and survivors with Everytown for Gun Safety and share our stories so others may know the truth of gun violence.  We are volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and advocate for gun safety.  We fight so that you and your family do not carry this pain.
Charlene Mokos Hoverter