Life in Omaha is starting to return to normal after last week's Westroads Mall tragedy. The mall itself reopened yesterday to brisk business, though Von Maur remains closed. Von Maur plans to reopen, probably after the damage is repaired and employees are ready to reopen. Which is a very good thing; it appears that the stores are conscientious employers and want to do what's right for their employees and the community. They are hurting too, as every day they are closed during the busy holiday shopping season hurts them in the pocketbook.
Earlier last week, there were some thoughts that perhaps Von Maur wouldn't reopen which would be a shame. Closing the store wouldn't make this go away; it won't bring the victims back. It would tell future maniacs that their actions can have an even larger impact on the world. Past shootings, though with fewer victims, haven't lead to closures. Hopefully Von Maur can get everything in order soon and reopen and help this community move on.
That's not to say that Omaha is going to forget the victims of last Wednesday either. Tomorrow starts the painful task of memorial services, funerals, and burials. As if you add major insult to injury, it appears that the Topeka funeral protesters are planning to appear outside many of the services tomorrow. When they announced plans to protest Saturday at Westroads, hundreds of Omahans lined up outside of Von Maur yesterday as a sign of support for the victims, the mall, and this community. It almost seems a shame that society needs to respond to this.
Fortunately, there are a lot of positive responses from our community. We're seeing the community pulling together in support, with memorial funds being established through numerous organizations. Eventually as the facts emerge from last Wednesday, we'll be able to better identify lapses in our mental health system as well as our laws. It appears that Omaha's police response was as good as could be expected, but there might be opportunities for improvement.
One thing is clear: while Omaha will not forget the eight people lost last Wednesday, life will go on. This city will prosper.