Meridian Star

June 8, 2014

Events promote unity on shooting anniversary

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — By Michael Stewart

    July 8 will mark the eleventh year since 48-year-old Douglas Williams fatally shot six of his co-workers at Lockheed Martin and wounded eight others before committing suicide.

    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 July 6-12. The theme is "Following Paths to Reconciliation."

    Events include:

    • A July 6 reconciliation service at 3 p.m. at 31st Baptist Church in Meridian.

    • Free lemonade passed out by the Miller family and music from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dumont Plaza in downtown 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 are: DeLois Bailey, 53, Sam Cockrell, 46, of Meridian; Micky Fitzgerald, 45, of Little Rock; Lynette McCall, 47, of Cuba, Ala.; and Thomas Willis, 57, of Lisman, Ala.

        The injured were Brad Bynum, 29, Steve Cobb, 46, Al Collier, 49, Brenda Dubose, 55, Chuck McReynolds, 62, Henry Odom, 57, Charles Scott, 65 and Randy Wright, 55.

    The annual event is meant to "allow the community to relate across racial lines in an effort to create a positive response," Stacey 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," Stacey Miller said.

    During Reconciliation Week, yellow and black bows will be displayed at city of Meridian and Lauderdale County offices.

    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, according to a press release.  

    "Our goal is to create positive changes by bringing together people of diverse backgrounds in various venues," the press release states.

    For more information call Stacey Miller, committee chairperson at 601-482-2489 or 601-616-2879.