COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A violent year in Columbus means more fathers are without their children this Father’s Day.
As of Sunday, there have been 93 homicides in the city so far in 2021.
Fathers who have lost their children say they don’t want other families to have to go through what they have, saying the holiday is tough for them.
They are also urging people to really think about the consequences of their actions before getting caught up in violence.
Mike St. Clair carries his sons with him everywhere he goes. Tattoos on each arm. On his right arm is a picture of his first son Anthony in the middle of his football number and piano keys for the instrument Anthony played.
“My reason is because he was my reason to change,” St. Clair said.
The tattoo farther down on his right arm was a Father’s Day gift from Anthony when he was in high school.
“He’s always going to be with me whether I had this or not,” St. Clair said. “He’s always in my heart, I always think about him.”
Anthony was 22 when he was stabbed and killed in 2013.
“Always an empty seat at the table,” St. Clair said. “Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Father’s Day. There’s always an empty seat at the table and it’s never going to get filled.”
Father’s Day 2021 comes as Columbus is on pace to set a record for homicides in a year. It’s only Rod Hickman’s second Father’s Day without his first son Jarrin. The 28-year-old was shot and killed in April 2020.
“He was a daddy’s boy,” Hickman said. “If you’re a father, you would want your son to be like that.”
As the city experiences a violent year, both fathers want people to put down the guns.
“Kids nowadays, they don’t think ahead,” Hickman said. “They’re just going out doing things and not thinking about the consequences.”
St. Clair’s wife Malissa runs the group Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children, with Michael usually in the background helping out. He likes that, but as a father of a son lost to violence, he wants to remind people how many lives are affected when a life is taken while also wanting to help those families.
“Men aren’t geared,” St. Clair said. “Men are taught you’re not supposed to show weakness. Crying is weakness. It’s not true, though. You got to show your pain and work through your pain. It’s a pain daily.”
When other fathers ask him for help, one of the pieces of advice St. Clair gives is to try to use the bad things that have happened to you as motivation to do something good for someone else.