A police officer once asked me why reporters always want to know a homicide victim's name.
It's a question some readers raise in sarcasm when they know someone whose loved one has been slain. The media is sometimes blasted for intruding into the privacy of mourning families.
But ask people such as Eula Monroe Walker.
Her son's name matters. His life mattered.
Xavier "Xa" Monroe, 25, had a year-old daughter, a sister and a girlfriend and was three weeks from enlisting in the Navy when he was shot by a stray bullet outside the Eclipse Lounge in Gulfport on July 7, 2013.
Monroe's killer wasn't firing at him, but is now serving time for his murder.
The Harrison Central graduate and community college student had been living in Wiggins with his girlfriend and was raising their toddler, a girl nearly 2 years old, and her 4-year-old son. He was looking forward to military service and making a better life for himself and those he loved.
“It still hurts,” his mother told me last week.
His family was selected to light a candle in remembrance of the region's crime victims during a candlelight ceremony on Friday.
I remember when he was killed. There had been a fight and he wasn't involved in it. But shots were fired and he was hit in the head by a stray bullet.
It's often hard for reporters to find the families of homicide victims. I don't recollect how I found his family, but they invited me over to talk about the young man they loved.
Sometimes, families don't want to talk under such circumstances. I respect their wishes.
But when they do, it's my honor to give them an opportunity to share what made their loved one special; to tell about their lives, their hopes, their dreams.
It puts a human face on an act of violence and allows victims a chance to be known for who they were, not just how they were killed.
Xa Monroe mattered not only to his family. He mattered to people he grew up with. His high school classmates. People who knew him from church.
I promised Eula Walker on Friday that her son won't be forgotten.
And thanks to crime victims' rights programs, the families of homicide victims can rest assured their loved ones will always be remembered.
And whenever grieving families are willing to talk, I'm willing to listen and help tell what made their loved ones special.-