On the one-year anniversary of the shootings in the Annapolis Capital newsroom, the city of Annapolis dedicated a memorial garden to the five victims in a quiet waterfront park, off the beaten path and away from the chaos of the City Dock.
There were five rosebushes, one each for Gerald Fischman, the editorial writer; Rebecca Smith, an advertising associate; assistant editor Rob Hiaasen; Wendi Winters, a feature writer, and reporter John McNamara, and a plaque with their names.
The All Children’s Choir of Annapolis sang and politicians—Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman John Paul Sarbanes, all Democrats—gave speeches extolling the virtues of a free press and the importance of the kind of community journalism practiced at the Capital.
Capital Editor Rick Hutzell said Hiaasen used to come to this park to think, “or, as I like to refer to it, played hooky.”
But that was all right, he added, because “Rob was a thoughtful guy.”
“But so was Gerald and so was John and so was Wendy. Rebecca wasn’t a journalist but she loved being in the newsroom. She loved being a part of us,” Hutzell said. “So, having a place that is intended for quiet contemplation, intended for appreciating what’s around you, that’s part of a beautiful city, it’s a very fitting place and it’s a nice gesture.”
And reporter Selene San Felice went directly after the politicians who, earlier this week sponsored legislation to authorize a memorial to fallen journalists in the nation’s capital, on the issue of gun violence. It can be stopped she said.
“This memorial, the memorial that you’re proposing, it means the world to us, and that’s our legacy. But your legacy is the way that you vote and we’re going to remember the way that you vote," she said. “So, please, remember us when you look at memorials, remember us when you vote.”
When it was over they all went back to work, because, as reporter Pat Furgurson said, they put a paper the morning after the shootings and they had another one to put out tomorrow.
“You’re damn right we’re putting out a paper tomorrow,” he said. “And the next day and the next day ant the next day.”