Friday, December 24, 2010

Homeless Persons Memorial Day Vigil, Inner Harbor Amphitheater

The National Coalition for the Homeless has designated the winter solstice, which falls on or around December 21 each year, as National Homeless Memorial Day. On this, the beginning of winter and the longest night of the year, homeless and formerly homeless people gather with activists, advocates, providers, and other supporters to read the names of homeless people who died over the preceding year.

For years now I've participated. in the local vigil, which is organized by the SHARP Coalition and Healthcare for the Homeless. It's a solemn counterpoint to the festivities of the holiday season, but a strangely uplifting one as well. Not only does it remind us, in this season of gift-giving and abundance, that our neighbors continue to die of poverty, exposure, and violence; the event is also a reminder that it is possible to make homelessness a "rare and brief occurrence," and that hope exists even in the coldest and darkest of seasons.

After the opening remarks and the musical offerings and the prayers comes the climax of the vigil: the reading of the names of the dead. After each name is recited, the crowd responds "we will remember."

For a long time I had a problem with that response. After all, the main reason that these people's names are on that list is because we as a society did not remember them. We forgot about them and threw them away. Even those of us who attend the vigil in their memory will forget about their names as soon as we hear them recited.

This year, however, I saw it differently. I don't know why, exactly, but something about the way we chanted "we will remember" after each name struck me not as an exercise in futility, but as a statement of resistance, a battle cry against all the cold and lonely ways in which we allow our neighbors to die in this wealthiest of all societies.

This year, instead of hearing my own voice - feeble, inadequate, privileged -- intoning the response, I heard the voices of all of the homeless and formerly homeless people standing around me. When they said, "we will remember," it was not only because they actually knew and would actually remember most of the people on that awful list. They said "we will remember" in defiance of despair and in contention with all the powers of darkness.

Here are the names of the dead:
Linda McNeill
William Ganzermiller
Joseph J. Levandoski
Cinderella Holley
Donald C. Downes
Ernest Panagestidis
Lindsay "Scott" Quesenberry
Donnie Moore
William "Billy" Soper
Adeline Quillan
Dwight Richardson
James D. Hanson
George Williams
Theo Corwin
Anton T. Pridget
Pamela Myers
Lee E. McCoy
Mark Miles
Allen Leslie
Lee McKnight
Doug Hamm
Harley Magee
Tracey Baird
Bruce Laster
Eric Jackson
Christian Sinott
Angelo Speller
Warren HIll
Venita Crawford
George Boynes
Jennifer Crosby
Martin York
James Stratemeyer
Steven McEachern
James "Jimmy" Smith
Sidney Hynson
Angela Tomlin
Winslow Thomas
Johnnie Bradley
Howard Hubbard
Andre Hurston
Elva Randall
Charles Wehnert
Mark Walters
Dennis Knauer
Rhonda Hamilton
Elijah Randolph
Joseph Rhodes
Michael D. Burrell
James Nicholson-El
Joel A. Reaves
Raymond Brown
Thomas Boston
Lennard Rainey
Robert Hicks
Adam O'Conner
Sandra Wilcox
Brian Goscinski
Kenneth Jackson
Daryl Ford
Patricia "Patti" Phillips
Brian Boyle
Ricky Diggs
Jerome MacDonald
Albert Bethea
Allan Ford
Linwood Tate
Frank Savage
Ronald Bassard
Gerrell McDonald
Regina McGuire-Harve
Larry Smith
Michael Harrison
Cecil Roland
Yolanda Howard
Douglas Morris
Anthony Walter
Mira Sandhu
Joseph Taylor
Bruce Harmesan
David Beers
Keyonna Williams
Jerry McNutt
Ryland Perry
LaFayette Johnson
Clarence L. McKnight

We will remember.


  1. does anyone know the date and circumstances of the passing of Lindsay "Scott" Quesenberry?

  2. kevin,
    thank you for not letting these folks pass unnoticed. I knew Scott Quesenberry well. He was a good man afflicted with a horrible and unforgiving illness. He will live on in my memory for some time.

  3. Susan I am the mother of Scott's 22 yr old daughter and we would like to attend this years vigil in Scott's honor (we did not know about last years until it was to late) if you know when and where this years is being held we would be very greatful for the info. Can you please email me @ I could also give you the info that you requested about him.
    Thank you so much

    1. would like to have information on this year's event. .for the memorial for the homeless. I have been away . looking for my Brother. Mark miles. My email. is 905 2937''' please call