Thirty years ago this month, the uprising at Attica Correctional Facility took place. Twenty years ago, Attica guard and hostage Gerald Reger -- my loving godfather and uncle -- passed away.
While I do not question that the process to retake the prison lacked total regard for all human life, I struggle to understand the proposed settlement for inmates, compared with the lack of support for the hostages and their families.
My uncle was a respected guard. An article from a prison inmate newsletter I found after he passed away referred to Lt. Reger as "one of the busiest and most popular officers at Attica."
He served as an adviser to the Inmate Liaison Committee. He worried about the prison overcrowding and the quality of understanding between the prison administration and the population. He volunteered on days off to assist with an inmate Christmas show. He was doing his job when he was brutally taken hostage.
Although my uncle physically survived the uprising, his spirit and health did not. This dear man was never the same. There is no doubt in my mind that his death at a young age 10 years after the riot was a direct result of what he went through during those five awful days in 1971.
While it is too late to give my uncle the support he needed and deserved, I hope it is not too late for the families of those who were needlessly slain and the hostages who still survive. They are the forgotten victims of Attica.
DONA REGER HAZEN