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Memorial Honors Victims, Families on 9th Anniversary of ACA Shooting

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On the ninth anniversary of the American Civic Association shooting, the Binghamton community gathered to honor the innocent lives lost.

“In the opening buds, in the rebirth of spring, we remember them. In the blueness of the sky, and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.”

In a memorial service held at the ACA Tuesday night, community and religious leaders came together to support the victims’ families from what is now the 13th deadliest mass shooting in America.

“We always think these horrible events happen to someone else. But we and the other 12 victim’s families are proof that even in a small city like Binghamton, it can happen to anyone.”

On the morning of April 3, 2009, a gunman opened fire at the non-profit on Front Street, killing thirteen. Many of whom were immigrants working to learn English.

“It’s amazing to see all these people from all walks of life come together and really support these families that have to go through such tragic times.” - George Haddad, ACA Board Member

A pair of siblings took the podium to speak about their parents, 44-year-old Marc Bernard and 46-year-old Maria Bernard, who were both were killed in the shooting.

“It feels great to come back and see that there’s still a lot of people that remember the tragedy, but it’s also a sad moment because I can still remember exactly what I was doing that day it happened.” - Hermanoschy Bernard

Hermanoschy Bernard was just a middle schooler at the time, and his sister, Valentina, only five years old.

“I did my regular routine, walked home, picked up my sister from the bus stop, went home and then usually just waited for our parents to get home but they never came home.”

The siblings waited for hours, eventually, Hermanoschy’s school Principal knocked on the door and contacted their aunt and uncle. Those relatives raised the children in Binghamton as their own.

Hermanoschy, who was just 11-years-old, says he found out about his parents’ death the next day on the news.

“I didn’t want to actually believe what I was seeing. It took me a while to actually cope with it and accept it.”

Now 21, Hermanoschy is going to college in Brooklyn and has learned to turn his pain into something good.

“Now that I’m older I’m definitely challenging it into more positive things like graduating and pursuing a career in public service.”

He says he's most interested in working in government, to prevent what happened to his parents from happening to other families.

“This is not the only time, as you know, it happens all around the country every single day. So if I can impact any way I can I definitely want to.”