TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma – More than 200 friends, colleagues, and strangers gathered at a downtown park in a Northeastern Oklahoma town Thursday evening to honor the memory of a local woman they say was loved by everyone.
Megan Hammer and others coordinated a candlelight vigil as a tribute to Moria Kinsey, who was allegedly murdered earlier this week by a Cherokee Nation physician. Hammer told the crowd of hundreds that Kinsey was looking down on them with a heart full of joy.
“I hope every time we think of her, our hearts are full of joy, too, and we think of her smile, and we think of her brightness, no matter the situation,” said Hammer.
Hammer posted on Facebook early Thursday morning a request that there be no conversation about the perpetrator at the vigil. The crowd focused on who Kinsey was, and Hammer reminded everyone that domestic violence happens every day.
Retired Northeastern State University Professor Craig Clifford reminisced about the days he worked with Kinsey on a research project.
“I guess when you get up at 4 in the morning and start work at 5:30 and do that in the hottest part of the summer, and depend on each other, rely on each other, you really learn to love and care for each other,” said Clifford.
After the details of Kinsey’s death were reported, Clifford said, it became more real for him, and he noted how tragedies like this one can affect everyone.
“Whether you knew the family or the friends or not, we’re all connected, and we all suffer when this kind of tragedy occurs,” he said.
Jennifer Cole-Robinson told the crowd about how Kinsey’s willingness to perform in the "Vagina Monologues" play.
“To be able to go and stand in front of complete strangers and be able to read a monologue about the most intimate portions of violence against women, and she did a great job,” said Cole-Robinson.
Nursing instructors at Connor’s State College, Dr. Brenda Smith and Dr. Julie Scott, were Kinsey’s teachers, and they paid tribute to her.
The song, “Take Your Candle, Go Light the World” was played just minutes before, and Smith said it was the same song played for nursing graduates during their Pinning Ceremony.
“I think that song is so fitting for Moria, because to us, she was candle or a light, and there was a light in her soul that burned bright, and all of the world saw that,” said Smith.
Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and others who worked with Kinsey were asked to gather for a moment of silence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – a fact not lost on the crowd.
“Look at this, guys: We’re all family. We have to stick together through these kinds of things," said Hammer. "It happens every day, whether we like to admit it, or like to see it or not. Be there for your co-workers, be there for your friends who are nurses and medical professionals, because we’ve been going through it,” said Hammer.