Balloon release honors ‘Bogue Chitto 8’ five years later
Published 7:34 pm Saturday, May 28, 2022
It was a beautiful day Saturday as the cars started trickling into the parking lot of the Bogue Chitto Fire Department. Car doors slammed as conversations began as whispers and become louder the closer the passengers walked toward the building. Bright balloons in white, and green, and red, and blue served as buffers between the many adults and children lighting around like lightning bugs.
Little girls jumped up and down on the border of the beautiful granite memorial to the side of the building, a juxtaposition of joyful life going on while the names of the lost remain silently etched in stone.
They all came to this place for one reason – or rather, eight: William, Brenda, Barbara, Toccara, Jordan, Austin, Ferral and Shelia. They came to mark this anniversary, to visit with each other and to remember the “Bogue Chitto 8.”
Some of the lost were distant families members when the murders happened May 27, 2017. Now, all eight are considered family members to those left to mourn. Walking around the site, spectators would be hard pressed not to see a T-shirt with all eight faces of those who lost their lives on that awful day. No matter the skin color, the blood in their veins, the occupations or the ages, all eight of those lost are now held close to the heart of the families and friends left behind.
While balloons were being readied, law enforcement officials joked among the crowd as welcomed brothers. One of the fallen that day was a member of their team, and they gathered to mourn as well. However, they are considered family, too, now, because of this terrible shared event.
Children danced in the grass, young boys threw a football, an older man stirred the baked beans that would go with the hamburgers, hot dogs and spicy rice, chicken and sausage. And the sun beamed down.
A young red-haired boy named Liam, who was named after his fallen family member, slurped on a cold drink and licked his lips. The day was hot.
A two-month old baby was passed from one cooing woman to another – everyone wanting to touch this new treasured and beautiful life. His name was Camden, his mother said, and she smiled with a mother’s pride.
They all gathered on this fifth anniversary of when someone took the lives of the eight people who were precious to them. They talked, they ate, they talked some more.
Then they released the balloons and watched with awe as the balls of color rose high into the sky, remaining visible for seemingly a long time, since the sky was so very blue.
“Love you,” someone whispered.
“Miss you,” someone else said while everyone’s heads remained raised to the heavens.
Those balloons had a new destination and there was not one person at that event who didn’t know just where they’d end up.
In honored memory of Deputy William Durr, 36; Jordan Blackwell, 18; Ferral Burrage, 45; Shelia Burrage, 46; Austin Edwards, 11; Brenda May, 52; Toccara May, 34; and Barbara Mitchell, 55.