CASTRO VALLEY -- Trees are no longer added to the Children's Memorial Grove. The stand of trees, each one commemorating a young life lost to homicide, had grown too large.
A yearly remembrance continues, though, and this year nine Alameda County children who died from violence in 2012 will be honored Friday at the 18th Children's Memorial Grove Ceremony on Fairmont Ridge. Their names will be inscribed on a plaque there and on another one in the courtyard of the county administration building on Oak Street in Oakland.
During the ceremony, the names will be read aloud by parents and loved ones.
One of those names this year is Hadari Askari, 15, who had dreamed of becoming a firefighter since he was a young boy and had just begun an Oakland Fire Department summer internship. The day after he started the internship, he was found shot, lying in a pool of blood and gasping for breath inside the locked gates of an East Oakland apartment complex, less than 100 yards from his front door.
Hadari joins about 400 children whose lives have been lost to violence in Alameda County since 1994.
Then-Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele began in 1996 what has become an annual tradition to remember those children. Steele, now retired, has continued holding the event, assisted by the Children's Memorial Grove Steering Committee, made of up parents who have lost their children to violence, and the East Bay Regional Park District.
"We need to pay attention to every child who died," Steele said.
She started the annual ceremony after noticing the huge amount of deserved attention given to the tragic death of Jenny Lin, 14, who was found slain in her Castro Valley home in 1994, but after a 16-year-old boy was killed that same year, there was barely any mention in the newspaper.
"If that kid had died in a small town, everybody would be talking about it," she said. "What I noticed was, with so many children, nobody was paying any attention when they died."
This year, names of some who died before 1994 will be read after Steele was contacted by their family members.
In addition to Hadari, the children who died last year because of violence are Shonte Daniels Jr., 15, of Oakland; Ainsley Freeman, 13, of Pleasanton; Raquel Gerstel, 15, of San Leandro; Charles Hill II, 16, of Oakland; Jubrille Jordan, 15, of Oakland; Lamont Price, 17, of Oakland; Bobbie Kathleen Sartain, 16, of Oakland; and Tattiaunn Turner, 16, of Oakland.
Shonte Daniels was shot in an East Oakland park. A 14-year-old who was charged with murder in Shonte's death said he killed his friend because he felt "disrespected" by something Shonte had said.
Ainsley Freeman, 13, was found shot to death in her Pleasanton home. Her mother turned a gun on Ainsley, then killed herself, police said.
Bobbie Kathleen Sartain and Raquel Gerstel were the best of friends. The two had left Bobbie's uncle's home early in the morning. Not long after, an argument in a parked car ended with the two girls being shot and then left on an East Oakland street to die.
Charles Hill II was fatally shot in East Oakland after an argument at a party.
Tattiaunn Turner, a new mother, had gone out for a night out with friends when she was gunned down outside an East Oakland liquor store, where she had stopped to buy candy.
Jubrille Jordan, who loved children and aspired to be a teacher, was shot as she walked to a BART station in East Oakland. Lamont Price was also shot in East Oakland.
Steele said the vast number of children throughout the nation who die from violence receive little if any attention.
"Parents deal with their grief in different ways, but it means a lot that the community remembers their children," Steele said. "We must never forget our children, ever."
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.
When: 3 p.m. April 26
Where: Fairmont Drive on Fairmont Ridge between Foothill Boulevard and Lake Chabot Road
Details: Shuttle service from the park entrance on Fairmont Drive to the grove on Fairmont Ridge is available starting at 2 p.m. Those attending are asked to arrive no later than 2:40 p.m. to allow time for the shuttle. Contact Gail Steele at 510-538-9422.