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How many more mothers must grieve a child taken by violence?

Tell us how many more. What’s the number?

Tell us how many more teenagers, children, must die — rather be murdered — before it’s over?

Tell us how many more mothers must stand over their children’s lifeless bodies? How many funerals must be arranged for children far too young, taken at the hands of violence, before it’s over?

This week, we have seen two teenagers in our community shot, killed, murdered. At the ages of 18 and 14, their lives were barely beginning. Their lives had promise, a future. Not any longer.

Instead, their families must make their final arrangements, their mothers must pick out flowers — not for their weddings later in life, but to adorn their caskets as their lives were ended.

There will be those who will sit back and try to rationalize what happened. They will ask questions, like what were they doing out so late, or why were they in that situation to begin with?

Why not ask how we as a society can even for a moment accept what has happened? How are we not holding rallies in these communities, these neighborhoods demanding better not from our law enforcement or city and county officials, but rather ourselves? How can we accept what some of our communities and neighborhoods have become?

The fault lies with us. The blood is admittedly on our hands.

In the days to come, there will be funerals and court proceedings held. There will be bodies laid in the ground and people placed behind bars. But the core problem will remain.

We as a city, a county — a community — must look inward. What will we accept? Will we continue to accept gun violence and drugs? Will we continue to allow property crime to go on as if it were simply a nuisance or a fact of life today?

We can no longer say “Well, at least we are not Jackson.” We can no longer compare ourselves to some other city and their problems. Instead, we must begin to compare ourselves to who and what we want to be and then work to get there.

It is time Vicksburg and Warren County rallied together, rallied around our churches and our faith, to protect not only our children but our future. These two deaths — these murders — must force us to act. If not, the bodies of these children will have meant nothing.

How many more have to be lost, have to be taken, for us to act?