VOICES: We remember Oregon District tragedy so history will not repeat

On August 4, 2019, my life changed forever.

I had recently survived the massive F-4 tornado that tore through our community, and just a few weeks later, gunfire tore through the Oregon District. Nine lives were senselessly taken from their families and friends, and countless other community members are still struggling with the painful memories of that evening in Dayton, Ohio.

That night I lost my father, Derrick Fudge. I was standing right beside him one minute, walking down the street and enjoying a night out, and the next minute he was lying on the ground, not moving. My father passed away in my arms. I was uninjured, but instead, my father died for me, shielding the bullets that could have been for me.

In the wake of this tragedy, I was inspired to take action and found the FUDGE (Flourishing Under Distress Giving Encouragement) Foundation, a 501c(3) non-profit in memory of my father with the mission to help others who have been impacted directly or indirectly by mass shootings and other forms of trauma. I travel to communities in the aftermath of mass shooting events to support individuals in their journey of grief and healing from trauma while helping to create the network of social services that will be needed after life returns to normal for others. For those who lose a loved one as a result of a mass shooting, life does not return to normal. It is a pain that we live with every day.

As the third anniversary of the Dayton mass shooting approaches, we must remember the importance of community support in building strength and resilience after trauma. The August 4 anniversary event, hosted by the FUDGE Foundation from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Oregon District, is an opportunity for survivors and the Miami Valley community to come together and celebrate the lives lost as well as to provide comfort to those whose lives were changed forever. This day of remembrance will include music, guest speakers, nine minutes of silence, and a dove release. There will also be resource guides to support those who are victims of trauma, such as mental health and support group information.

As a survivor, I believe in the power of sharing my story to advocate for change. The FUDGE Foundation encourages all Miami Valley residents to vote and get involved, remembering that elections have consequences. The House of Representatives recently passed a piece of legislation that would ban assault rifles for the first time since 2004. This new law would criminalize the knowing sale, transfer, manufacture, transfer, possession, or importation of various types of semi-automatic weapons, as well as large-capacity ammunition feeding devices.

While we remain hopeful that the ban will pass, we urge you to contact your senator and ask them to pass the assault weapons ban to help ensure safer communities across the United States.

If you would like more information regarding the FUDGE Foundation or the 3rd Anniversary Remembrance Celebration, please visit fudgefoundation.org.

Dion Green is an Oregon District shooting survivor and founder of the FUDGE Foundation.

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