By Joshua Winata
The Cove Herald
Patricia Isaacs is no stranger to crime.
As a retired social worker with Child Protective Services, she has seen children who have been beaten and abused, and living in the big cities of New York and New Orleans, she herself has been the victim of violence. Among other brutal crimes, Isaacs said she has been mugged numerous times and was once physically attacked by one of her clients.
Even after moving to Copperas Cove five years ago, tragedy and loss continued to follow her. Since living in Central Texas, she said she was robbed on campus while working as a substitute teacher in Killeen, and she had a friend who was murdered in the area just more than a year ago.
“You just don’t get over it,” Isaacs said. “Other people don’t understand it because they haven’t been through it. There’s a lot of anger and hurt because someone took that person out of your life, and you try to get closure. It’s just very hard.”
The Coryell County Crime Victims Office is hoping to bring some awareness to those untold stories with a temporary memorial of pinwheels installed on the front lawns of Copperas Cove City Hall and the Coryell County Courthouse as part of the 2008 National Crime Victims Week, which runs from April 13 to 19.
At each of the locations, almost 2,800 pinwheels are arranged in neat rows, their metallic petals spinning and casting off shimmering light like glimmers of hope. Each pinwheel represents a crime victim served by Coryell County in this year alone and the lost innocence and “carefree days” of those victims, Coryell County Crime Victims’ Coordinator Amy Perkins said. The installations will remain on display until Saturday.
“It gives people something to think about. I drive by, and it’s pretty awesome to look at,” said Officer Lori Hix of the Copperas Cove Police Department, who assisted in putting up the pinwheels. “If it can take my breath away just when looking at it, it’s got to do something for everybody else.”
For Hix, the pinwheels represent much more than the collective sorrow of crime victims. As an criminal investigator, each one was another individual and another face that she has had to console.
“I take my job personally,” Hix said. “I don’t know all of them, but I know a good number of them.”
About 50 volunteers, the highest turnout ever, helped to plant the pinwheels on Saturday. Several organizations, including Bikers Against Child Abuse, Copperas Cove Citizens Police Academy and Gatesville Exchange Club, sent groups of members that donated their time complete the installation.
With a black leather vest and skulls tattooed across across his bulging biceps, Mike Blood didn’t look like the type to be carrying around a bouquet of pinwheels. But as a member of BACA, an advocacy group that provides support for abused children, he came out to help for the dozens of young victims that he has met in court this year. What Blood remembers when he looks at the pinwheels is the six-year-old girl he had to accompany in court as she testified against the perpetrator who assaulted her.
“We sat together and talked about it, and she was so brave getting up on the stand. We just prayed together for God to give her the strength to say the right thing,” he said. “Doing this kind of puts you in another mood. But I wouldn’t be doing anything else.”
Isaacs was also among the volunteers that day, her head covered in a dark red shawl as she sorted out the pinwheels and stacked them in piles, ready to be planted. Even after several decades, she is still looking for closure for the violent crimes committed against her. She said she’s getting there slowly, and sharing the pain with other victims through the pinwheels has helped, she said.
“You search, and you try to find an answer for it, and I guess we all come to our own answers,” Isaacs said. “It’s just something that happened for whatever reason, and you just learn to go on.”
Contact Joshua Winata at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7476