Baltimore cyclists are gathering and riding through the city tonight in memory of 20-year-old Aaron Laciny, starting near the very spot where he was killed late last month.
As police continue to investigate the fatal hit-and-run crash that took 20-year-old Aaron Laciny’s life on Monday evening, his family and peers have been sharing kind words about the late researcher, cyclist and outdoors enthusiast.
Maravene Loeschke had many ties to Towson University. She got her undergraduate degree there (in theater, ’69), as well as a Master’s (education, ’71). She was both a professor and a dean before taking over as the university’s president in 2012. Loeschke sadly passed away earlier this summer, and now the university is planning a public memorial service to honor one of its most impressive and ardent supporters.
“I CAN’T FORGET WHAT HAPPENED, BUT NO ONE ELSE REMEMBERS,” read the giant red letters floating in the reflecting pool beneath DC’s Washington Monument. “I’ve never seen anything like that floating in the reflecting pool and I’ve lived in or around DC my whole life,” an observer noted. “So I was very drawn to it. It was a beautiful message and it was a haunting message.” The words, written by a survivor of sexual assault, were displayed in DC by FORCE, the Baltimore-based feminist activist group (who you may remember for their awesome Victoria’s Secret prank back in December). Although their installation was temporary, it was part of a push to create a national memorial for survivors of rape and abuse on the National Mall.
Chubsy-Ubsy wasn’t the only Baltimorean who got a proper gravestone this week. For a century, Sunny Side Cemetery in Sykesville was home to 900 plain gravestones that marked the final resting places of patients from a local mental hospital who either weren’t claimed by families or were too poor to pay for a proper burial. The graves were marked with numbers, but their names and birthdays and life stories were lost to history — until now.
The Springfield Hospital Center, founded in the nineteenth century, was far from the creaky, abusive mental hospitals you see in horror movies. Its 3,500 patients helped run the hospital’s farm and dairy; the complex even had its own fire and police departments. But though Springfield was humane, that doesn’t mean that patients had a pleasant life. Before the advent of psychiatric medicines, long-term institutionalization was the main form of treatment; many Springfield residents were essentially abandoned by their families — hence the unmarked pauper’s graves.
“We must take care of our patients with all sense of dignity and respect,” says Paula Langmead — referring both to Springfield’s current population (down to a couple hundred in-patient residents) and its former denizens. Which is why Langmead, along with other Springfield staff and volunteers, painstakingly looked through the hospital’s dusty records to put names to those hundreds of unmarked graves. Those names are now memorialized on a plaque to honor and preserve their memory. Last week, two hundred people gathered to dedicate the memorial.
“There is a real peace here, but I have wondered forever about who they were,” Jen Fry, a nurse who works at the hospital told the Baltimore Sun. “I knew the hospital had to have their names. Now that we have turned the numbers into names, there is still peace but a real difference in how this place feels.”