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A milestone no one wants to mark, but neither can we forget

August 17. 2017 11:34PM

A memorial outside the Colebrook News and Sentinel building honors New Hampshire state troopers Scott Phillips and Les Lord; District Court Judge Vickie Bunnell and Editor Dennis Joos, all of whom were shot and killed on Aug. 19, 1997, by Carl Drega. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of what many in the North Country remember as “the evil day,” officials at State Police Troop F will hold a memorial run from Colebrook to Twin Mountain. (John Koziol/Correspondent)

Editor’s Note: The following editorial by News and Sentinel of Colebrook Publisher Karen Harrigan initially ran in that newspaper last week. It reflects, as only that hometown newspaper could, on the 20th anniversary of the murders of State Troopers Scott Phillips and Leslie Lord, local judge and attorney Vickie Bunnell, and Dennis Joos of the News and Sentinel.

It is hard to believe that next Saturday, it will be 20 years since the North Country lost four of its own, and was shaken to the core by a tragedy the likes of which we’d never imagined, let alone seen. Some of us have moved on, some of us still think of it every day, and for many of us the grief just drifts back anew at odd moments, and suddenly it feels like it happened yesterday.

It is still harder to imagine, feeling the way we feel and having been affected as so many of us were, that a good many people here in the North Country don’t know what happened that day. Quite a few have moved from elsewhere, but many more are local who were simply too young to remember it — the kids who graduated this past June were not even born yet on August 19, 1997.

Simply because of that fact, and because we know the bigger media has, and will continue to, run their own 20-years-later stories, we thought about it. We struggled over whether and how to write such a piece, and came to the conclusion that we have no more desire to revisit the pain and tragedy of that day than anyone else we might have to interview. Next week will be tough enough to get through.

The State Police are staging a memorial run from Colebrook to Twin Mountain through the night on Friday, with a ceremony on Saturday at Troop F. And as they always do, local law enforcement will gather at the monument at 11 a.m. on the 19th to pay their respects, and the families of those lost will be invited to place flowers in their memory. This year’s observance will also include a brief service by Rev. Tim Brooks.

So rather than try to come up with an editorial piece for next week’s paper, we will assemble a tribute to those we lost, and a reminder of the memorial events for those who wish to attend them.

We’ll let the bigger media do what they will; as for ourselves, we’ll just muddle through the sadness we feel at leaving our friends even farther behind in the past.

Public Safety Crime History Editorial Colebrook

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