The exhibit will also be traveling and be in Pittsburgh in 2022.By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gun violence has claimed the lives of 21 teenagers in Allegheny County this year, leaving families and entire communities traumatized by the loss of their young.

This weekend, some of those families will contribute mementos of their loved ones to a national memorial to the victims of gun violence. The Gun Violence Memorial Project is a way for families to honor their murdered loved ones and to put faces on this national epidemic.

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Back in the 1990s, Geraldine Massey lost her son Gerald to gun violence. Forty-five days later, her son Omar was murdered. Today, she still grieves.

“As mothers, we’re nurturers and we’re always supposed to be there. And when we’re not and they get killed, it just tears at your heart and you can never make it right,” Massey said.

It’s a pain and trauma that never goes away, and Massey feels it most poignantly now that so many of our young people are dying from gunfire.

“Here we are and 15-year-olds got guns. … They just grab out a gun and think that resolves all, but really it’s the beginning of the end for both families,” Massey said.

To give those families some solace and to commemorate those lost lives, Massey will join others this weekend in contributing two figurines — one for Gerald, the other for Omar — to the Gun Violence Memorial Project.

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“When I heard about this memorial, I thought it was so fitting to honor their lives, to not let their lives be without notice, that they be part of this memorial, and I find it an honor to be able to send these on,” she said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

From here, these keepsakes will be placed in a glass house memorial in Washington, D.C., along with photographs, baby shoes, graduation tassels and other artifacts from families of gun violence victims from across the nation.

Local families can bring their keepsakes to the Center of Life in Hazlewood — one of three places accepting these remembrances. Organizers believe putting a face on the violence epidemic may help bring about the resolve to address it.

“When you see these artifacts that people will bring, it says something about who the person was a little bit, about their background, and their family and how that person lived in that life. And the missing pieces that are there because that person is no longer there in this earth,” said Tim Smith of the Center of Life.

If you travel to Washington, D.C., you can see the exhibit at the National Building Museum, but the exhibit will also be traveling and be in Pittsburgh in 2022.

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If you want to donate a remembrance object to the Gun Violence Memorial Project, there will be events in Pittsburgh this weekend. You can find more information here