An open letter to the community:

November 7. A date burned into the minds of everyone in Thousand Oaks. When the shooting ended, the lives of 12 innocent victims were taken, many more people were injured and the community was reeling. Over night, we were plunged into chaos and confusion.

As the news spread, the only words to describe the state of the Thousand Oaks community were utter shock. It was so hard to comprehend; we had all seen the long list of mass shootings in America, but now we were on it. We all seemed to be asking the same question: How could this have happened? 

Thousand Oaks was no longer the small city that nobody had ever heard of. We were now the home of the Borderline shooting, where 12 innocent lives were taken from us without a moment’s warning. 

As the weeks went by, the tragic shooting remained in the forefront of our minds. Every time the school went under lockdown, we would freeze and question if it was more than just a drill. Every time we heard sirens blasting down the street, we would get a feeling of dread in the pit of our stomachs. 

But the feelings of shock and horror are fading. Perhaps this is a product of the society we are living in, with what seems like a shooting every other week. Perhaps we are immune. Perhaps time passing allows us to push it to the back of our minds. 

And we cannot let this happen. We cannot become numb. 

The shock we felt on the first night may have dimmed as we adjusted to our new reality, but we can never let our memories fade or our fierce feelings of unity unravel. The community came together like never before, and for the most part has stayed together. But we are beginning to see cracks. Partisan lines are being drawn again, shields have been going back up. It is imperative that we remember what brought us together in the first place, and it is imperative that it keeps us together. 

November 7 is a day that will live in infamy in the minds and hearts of the Thousand Oaks people. Long after the news channels have stopped covering us and the rest of the country forgets our name, we will remember what happened that night. We must. It is our duty as the ones left behind to remember the names of the people who lost their lives, to remember their families, to remember what it means to come together as a community, to be Thousand Oaks Strong. Because if we don’t, who will?

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