PADUCAH, Ky. (WPSD) — Twenty-two years after a school shooting, one of the survivors created a symbol for survivors, and she has that symbol tattooed on her arm.
On December 1, 1997, three people died and five more were injured in a shooting at Heath High School in McCracken County.
"Every year's different. One year it's great, the next year is horrible, and this year's a tattoo," survivor Nikki Orazine told WPSD.
Orazine created the "Survivor Symbol" and this year, she got it tattooed on her arm at a Paducah tattoo shop.
"The whole symbol is actually a phoenix, which is represented by the phoenix, the mythological creature that rises stronger after it dies," Orazine told the station. "The head of the phoenix is a triangle, which is the strongest geometric shape that exists, then the body is actually a diamond that is made stronger under pressure."
The tail of the phoenix is an infinity symbol, representing the support that school shooting survivors continue to give each other. Orazine said the symbol is not restricted to survivors of the Heath High School shooting, but for school shooting survivors across the nation.
"Our group is an unfortunately growing group that nobody wants to be a part of, or should have to be a part of. But at the same time, once you're a part of it, you're glad it's there." Orazine said.
Orazine said anyone who is a survivor of a mass school shooting can get the Survivor Symbol tattooed on them, or get it on a shirt. She told WPSD she doesn't mind if people personalize the tattoos, but she asks that you keep the original picture to preserve its meaning.
"I do know that throughout the country, people are putting like colors on their tattoos. I know that like the Route 91 shooting, they put like orange on theirs," Orazine said. "And other people put like the Columbine flowers around their tattoos, so they can do that."
Survivors that got shirts and hoodies with the symbol on them gave half of the proceeds from the shirts to The Rebels Project, which is a national group that helps survivors through trauma.
Artist Andrew Huckleberry worked on Orazine's tattoo. He said he also helped with memorial tattoos for Marshal County High School survivors.