Do you remember Sherry? Do you remember the teacher who lived in Sidney, Montana who went out for a run on January 7, 2012 and never came back? Do you remember the story of her kidnapping, murder, and the search for her body? Do you remember the details of the perpetrators – two men from Colorado aged 22 and 48 who were in the area to pursue jobs in the oil patch? Do you remember that they killed her for shits and giggles and then buried her body in a shallow grave near Williston, North Dakota? Do you remember the Mayor of Sidney saying how desperately they needed an increased police presence to deal with some of the challenges they were facing with the influx of oil workers? Do you remember the anguish of the community of Sidney and surrounding communities – communities who understand that this could have happened as easily to one of their beloved community members? Do you remember the calls for justice for Sherry and her family? Do you remember?
Sherry was laid to rest yesterday. The community of Sidney came out to mourn her tragic loss. In the months to come we will revisit Sherry’s loss in the testimony that comes at trial. There will be sentences and appeals and much hand-wringing about what we should do to prevent this from happening again.
And then Sherry’s loss will fall off the collective radar. Some sports star will behave badly or a movie star will die before their time because of drugs and our attention will drift from Sherry Arnold. We will begin to move on and only think of Sherry in passing until we hardly ever think of her at all. We will drift into a blissful fog wherein we once again believe that the type of horrible thing that happened to Sherry doesn’t happen here. At least until it happens again…then we will all remember Sherry Arnold and her story as if it happened yesterday.
If we owe Sherry, her family, her friends, her community, and ourselves one thing it is this – we must remember what happened to her. We must do something that acknowledges the risk her death made us aware of and address it. We must address the increasingly volatile impact the oil patch is having on the little communities that serve and surround it. These communities are becoming places unrecognizable to the longtime residents; and, safety is becoming a critical issue.
Remember Sherry Arnold today, tomorrow, and every time you hear the term oil patch. Remember Sherry Arnold in every discussion you have with a legislator and every time you cast a vote. Remember Sherry Arnold when you hear how great the oil patch is for the economic health of North Dakota and Montana. Remember Sherry Arnold when you hear about the unbridled growth without sufficient infrastructure that is occurring in the oil patch. Remember Sherry Arnold when you look at your loved ones and know that if we don’t remember Sherry they may be the next person we are remembering with regret.
Remember Sherry Arnold.
Day nine hundred and ninety-nine of the new forty – obla di obla da