Events promote unity on shooting anniversary
MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — The week of July 7 marks the 11th anniversary of the July 8, 2003 workplace shooting at the Lockheed Martin plant in Meridian, where Douglas Williams shot 14 co-workers, killing six of them before committing suicide.
The workplace shooting at Lockheed is among the deadliest in the United States.
A one day commemorative observance of the deaths each year by family members of the Rev. Charlie J. Miller, who was among those fatally shot, was extended in 2008 into a weeklong event.
“We opened this to the entire community,” Miller’s daughter, Stacey Miller said. “This was such a divisive event that we wanted to turn this into something positive to bring people together.”
This year, the 7th Annual Conciliation Week will take place starting Sunday through July 12. The theme is “Following Paths to Reconciliation.”
— A July 6 reconciliation service at 3 p.m. at 31st Baptist Church in Meridian.
— The Rev. Charlie J. Miller Memorial Luncheon at Union Station on July 9 at 11:45 a.m.
— Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast July 11 at 7 a.m. at Meridian City Hall.
— On July 12, beginning at noon, the Oxford Night Owls Motorcycle Club will lead a memorial ride from the Lockheed Martin Corporation to Forest Lawn Cemetery, where a short program will be held.
Besides Miller, others killed in the shooting were: DeLois Bailey, 53, Sam Cockrell, 46, of Meridian; Micky Fitzgerald, 45, of Little Rock; Lynette McCall, 47, of Cuba, Alabama; and Thomas Willis, 57, of Lisman, Alabama.
The annual event is meant to “allow the community to relate across racial lines in an effort to create a positive response,” Miller said.
For the fifth year, the Reconciliation Week Committee will award two Lauderdale County high school graduates with the Rev. Charlie J. Miller Memorial Scholarships in the amount of $300 each. In addition, the Miller family will pass out free lemonade at Dumont Plaza.
“The luncheon is an opportunity for relationship building,” Stacey Miller said. “The lunch is designed to help establish and extend friendships to others of a different background. Ideas will be shared on how we can respond to grow on a personal, professional, and economic level.”
Mission Mississippi Meridian will host the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
“This is an opportunity for local leaders to pray for our city and communities,” Miller said.
During Reconciliation Week, yellow and black bows will be displayed at city of Meridian and Lauderdale County offices.
Miller said the mission of the Reconciliation Week Committee, formed in 2010, is to unite the community in the spirit of reconciliation in honor of the lives lost in the Lockheed tragedy of 2003.
Information from: The Meridian Star, http://www.meridianstar.com