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Families remember victims in Tree of Angel lighting ceremony

BEAUMONT - By Megan Dillard - The Jefferson County Coalition for Victims of Crime hosted its 12th annual Tree of Angels ceremony tonight.

There wasn't a dry eye in the room tonight.

For many families, it was a somber celebration; a chance to remember a loved one lost to a crime during an especially difficult time of year.

"Merry Christmas!"

A lighting ceremony in the middle of the Jefferson County courthouse.

A Christmas tree covered in pictures, ornaments, and name tags.

"You see people that have been here year after year. They might hug. They might see these people only once or twice a year, and they're able to come and have this opportunity. I think it's a healing process for them."

A healing process for families who have lost loved ones to crimes.
Each victim honored with an ornament on the Jefferson County Tree of Angels.

"Shoes. She loved shoes. So we try to get her a new shoe every year."
Stacy Bourque's daughter Summer was murdered four years ago.
Bourque looks forward to this ceremony each year.

"It's kind of bittersweet because you're among people that know what you're going through and kind of help you through it."

People like Christine McGill.

"This is my Christmas."

Her son Jeremy was shot in 2001.

"If you see up there, he's flying. He has a very special place this year."

McGill has a shoebox of ornaments.

With pain in her eyes, she hangs her angels and reflects on the difficult time of year.

"This is the real meaning of Christmas to me. It's not just about Jesus' birth, but it's about all of us being together, all of sharing not the good times, but the bad times."

McGill says the grief never really goes away.

But moments like these can help, even if it's just for a little while.

"It just makes me feel better. There's nothing else I can do. I can't bring him back. So this is my way of honoring him every year at Christmas. What better way."

The display will stay up through the end of the year.  

Families remember victims in Tree of Angel lighting ceremony

Thursday, December 6 2012, 10:12 AM CST
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