Amid candles and tears, the survivors of murder victims took turns saying the names of their loved ones during a ceremony Sunday, commemorating the second National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. Many of the survivors couldn’t speak the names without breaking into tears and were comforted by those around them.
About 30 people gathered in the Central Park Casino to share stories, poems and remember their lost loved ones.
Patricia Gioia, leader of the Albany chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, which organized the event, said the day was to “remember the victims and reach out to the survivors and their unending courage.”
Gioia said POMC has helped her with the loss of her daughter Mary Regina Gioia, who was murdered in California in 1985.
After her daughter’s death, Gioia attended her first POMC meeting and has been coming since, she said, serving as chapter leader for 20 years.
She said the families like remembering together and being around those who have had similar experiences.
“Sometimes we have speakers, but other times we just talk about what’s going on in our lives,” Gioia said.
For Marie Verzelli of Rotterdam, being around others who have shared the same experience is helpful. After 10 years, the memory of her sister Cathy Marsh’s death still brings her to tears.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but the fact that they are here helps me,” she said.
Former Rensselaer County District Attorney Trish DeAngelis spoke during the ceremony, noting POMC was an organization she hoped she would never have to be a part of.
DeAngelis said survivors should never let law enforcement officials forget their loved ones, and she urged the survivors in attendance to work together to persuade legislators to change what she called New York’s crime-friendly laws and make them tougher on criminals.
“You have an incredible power to create change,” DeAngelis said. “You can help prevent this from happening to anyone else.”
Survivors were given the opportunity to share their memories and stories about lost loved ones.
Martha Warner of Rensselaer, whose daughter Liza was killed by her husband four years ago, told a story about her doctor who shared Liza’s story with a patient of his, who then left her abusive husband and moved home.
“See, Liza is helping us save lives, even in death,” Warner said.
Verzelli talked about her sister and urged those in attendance to not judge people too quickly and to never lose hope.
“We are all responsible for that hope,” she said.
The Albany chapter of POMC has been meeting since 2000 for a remembrance day.
The House of Representatives passed a resolution officially naming Sept. 25 as National Remembrance Day for Murder Victims in May 2007.
The Albany chapter of POMC meets at the Woodlawn Reformed Church on the third Monday of each month.
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