HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - One Huntsville woman is turning her pain into a mission to advocate against violence in the Rocket City.
Many people like to be around family for Easter, but it can be a tough day if you have lost a loved oe recently. WHNT News 19 has reported on recent deaths due to violence in the Huntsville community, and Donna Howell wants to make sure those victims are never forgotten on a day their absence could be noticed most.
Howell has set up a memorial for young victims of violence in her front yard. Most of the people featured in the memorial are murder victims.
This isn't your typical memorial. She cuts out Easter eggs and places the pictures of the community's murder victims on it:
Donna Howell said she created the tree memorials from her own pain: "My son was murdered when he was 16 and I wanted to keep his memory alive," she explained.
The youngest angel on the tree this year is "Sweet Livia." Livia was just 3-years-old when she was killed in a drive-by shooting last month.
Livia`s mom volunteered to help Howell make the memorial this year. Howell accepted with open arms.
"It`s very emotional because my child is there. I`m getting emotional now, but when I do a 3-year-old baby, or I do a 16-year-old kid, or 15-year-old kid, or 19-years-old. They had a whole life ahead of them that was just ripped away," Howell said as she stood near the trees.
The trees serve two purposes: to remember the young lives taken away, and to make a statement.
"I think all of these kids deserve to be remembered. Their lives were cut short. All of these kids are 25 and under," Howell explained. "It's time we started telling these politicians and the police department we need better from you all. We need you to at least acknowledge that the crime rate is so bad in our city. Step up and try to do something."
Howell describes losing a child as a life sentence. "My son got two Easter baskets every year. We had a big Easter dinner. This year I will go look at his room and I will cry," she noted.
Her faith helps cloud the pain and allows her to guide even the youngest through the suffering. Howell said every holiday she makes some sort of memorial and she had to put 15 more angels on the tree this year compared to last year. She doesn't want to keep adding faces to the trees.