Can We Stop Calling the Subsequent Dates of a Tragedy an Anniversary?

by | Oct 13, 2022 | FREE Downloads, Gary's Blog

Anniversary [ an-uhvur-suh-ree ] noun:

1.   A day that is an exact number of years (to the day) since a given significant event occurred. Often preceded by an ordinal number indicating the number of years.

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war.

2.  Such a day that commemorates a wedding.

We are celebrating our tenth anniversary today.

3.  A day subsequent in time to a given event by some significant period other than a year (especially as prefixed by the amount of time in question).


For most people, an anniversary is the celebration of an important event in their life: Graduation from a school, the day a career began, the ending of a war, the day we get married… Although, by the strictness of definitions, the tragedy of a school shooting can be viewed in subsequent years on that same day, I think it is time we stopped using the word anniversary to remember the event.

For me, words matter – and I know semantics are not going to stop school shootings. But we have moved away from naming the cowards who perpetuate these crimes and now it is time we stop remembering the day and those lost as an anniversary day.

Does this mean we should not continue to honor the innocent victims who lost their lives on these tragic days?  Of course not.  Should we, as School Safety Professionals, continue to maintain awareness of these dates that may be a source of inspiration to those who wish to commit similar acts of violence in the future?  Absolutely.  Awareness of potential copycat crimes is another layer of school safety and security we should all implement.  However, we should all stop calling these sad days ‘anniversaries’, as we should never celebrate a tragedy.

Suggestions to replace ‘anniversary’ include The First Annual Day of Remembrance or the First Annual Day of Observance. I am open to your suggestions and thoughts on this matter.

As I mentioned, the following dates should be on the calendars of all School Administrators, Resource Officers, and even local First Responders, as they may be studied or obsessed over by future criminals.

Please download and share with your network as a free school safety resource.

How do you plan to remember these events?

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