Federal, state and local officials joined families of homicide victims to honor their lost loved ones at the 13th annual ‘Tennessee Season to Remember’ Thursday evening. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam hosted the ceremony at First Baptist Church on Broadway in Nashville.
“The holidays can be an especially difficult time for families shattered by violent crime. We hold this special service each year to show them their fellow Tennesseans care, and to provide comfort and hope to all families that have lost loved ones to violence,” Haslam said.
The keynote speaker was Rebecca Easley, who became involved in victims’ rights following the murder of her older sister, Deborah Groseclose, in 1977. Deborah’s husband, William Groseclose, was convicted of hiring three men to kill his wife. Deborah’s family dealt with decades of court procedures, including an appeal that made Groseclose and another accomplice eligible for parole consideration. Through it all, Rebecca was a tireless advocate for her sister and helped raise awareness of victim concerns and the need for victim rights in Tennessee.
During the ceremony, families from across the state placed ornaments on memorial wreaths in honor of their loved ones. The wreaths will be displayed in the Tennessee State Capitol throughout the holiday season.
Former Sen. Charlotte Burks and former Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte placed the first ornaments on the wreaths. Burks’ husband, Sen. Tommy Burks, was murdered in 1998. Conte founded the ‘Tennessee Season to Remember’ ceremony in 2002.
Representatives from the sponsoring organizations, as well as the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association, also placed ornaments on the wreaths in honor of the victims and the survivors they assist throughout the year.
Singer/songwriter Victoria Shaw provided the musical entertainment.
The Tennessee Board of Parole, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the office of the Secretary of State, the office of the State Attorney General, the office of the State Treasurer, the Tennessee Department of Correction, Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration’s Office of Criminal Justice Programs, Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction (TRICOR) and victim advocacy groups You Have the Power and Tennessee Voices for Victims have worked together on this year’s event.