Gun Violence Memorial Project Features Victims' Mementos -- and the Stories They Leave Behind

Elaine Aradillas
·3 min read

MASS design group

For every one of the thousands of lives ended by bullets every year in America, there are people left grieving a now-empty place in their hearts.

That sense of loss is being recognized in the Gun Violence Memorial Project, a collection of mementos, and the stories behind them, from people killed by guns.

"The memorial seeks to preserve individual memories and communicate the magnitude of the issue in built space, and hopes to foster a national healing process that begins with a recognition of the collective loss and its impact on society," according to its website.

The exhibit, a partnership between Everytown and the architectural firm MASS Design Group at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to open in March for in-person viewing.

RELATED: NFL's Diontae Spencer Fights to End Gun Violence After Dad Was Killed in Robbery

Visitors can see objects that once belonged to victims at the time of their tragedies.

In 2016, Dedrick DeShon Earl was visiting a friend at a North Austin apartment complex when a resident thought they were messing with his car, according to an article in the Austin American-Statesman.

MASS Design Group

In an effort to talk to the resident, Earl followed him up a set of stairs toward his apartment, the article stated.

"Dedrick was not the center of the argument," Earl's mother Diana Earl wrote in an essay about her son. "He was being a big brother and trying to protect his friend when he was killed."

RELATED: Professional Athletes Who Survived Gun Violence Share Stories of Pain — and Purpose

His favorite pair of high-top tennis shoes, with the Dallas Cowboys emblem, are on display at the exhibit.

These objects and their stories are reminders that each of the nearly 40,000 Americans killed each year from gun violence are real people, not statistics.

RELATED: DeAndre' Bembry Was Drafted into NBA a Week After Brother's Killing, Now Honors Him 'Every Day'

The exhibit can be seen virtually at gunviolencememorialproject.org.

National Gun Violence Survivors Week is the first week of February, and runs through Friday. A virtual roundtable event, in partnership with PEOPLE and the nonprofit advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety, brought a group of athletes -- all members of the Everytown Athletic Council -- together to discuss the gun violence crisis, often with very personal stories.

Professional Athletes Who Survived Gun Violence Share Stories of Pain – and Purpose

Four professional athletes (Devereaux Peters, DeAndre’ Bembry, Stedman Bailey, and Diontae Spencer) reveal the horrific moments when gunfire altered their lives — and how they’re working to stop the shootings.

(Watch the full People Features: Gun Violence Survivor Athletes panel streaming now on PeopleTV.com. The discussion was also featured on last Thursday's episode of PEOPLE: (The TV Show!).

Professional Athletes Who Survived Gun Violence Share Stories of Pain — and Purpose

Ahead of National Gun Violence Survivors Week, Feb. 1-7, PEOPLE and Everytown for Gun Safety partnered for a virtual roundtable discussion

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