I was teaching on Friday morning when I read the news about the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Early reports were upsetting, especially given the young children in the school, but as the number of victims grew throughout the day, my heart sank.
I was a senior in high school when the Columbine shootings occurred. It was devastating and scary, as you wondered if something like that was possible in your own community. The blame that went to the “gothic” groups then was very strange, as it made society look at that group of kids like they were all capable of such a crime. I still remember that day, the announcement, and the feelings I had about how my life would have changed if I was in that school.
When the news at Sandy Hook broke, I sat there as a parent of a four-year-old daughter, a husband of a first and second grade teacher, and I couldn’t help but break down when I thought about something like that happening to me.
However, it didn’t, and what I thought about how I may have felt can’t match the pain of the parents and those affected by this unspeakable crime.
I buried a stillborn child in May of 2007. I didn’t get to know my daughter and it was still a life-altering experience. You can’t even begin to understand the pain of not being able to tell your child that it will be ok, providing comfort in their final moments, or giving them the guidance they may have needed to make it through the chaotic events.
I wanted nothing more than to just reach out to my child, hold her, and tell her that I loved her on Friday afternoon. I talked to her on the phone that day (I’m divorced with a shared-parenting plan) just to tell her that something really bad happened today and that I am glad that she is safe.
When you think about what schools are supposed to be, this disgusting act becomes worse. We send out children to school to learn the fundamental values and knowledge needed to succeed in our society. We give them a kiss and drop them off or send them off to a bus knowing that we trust that they are safe at school, returning home to share their daily adventures with us several hours later.
On Friday, that simple expectation changed. Never take a moment for granted. Hug your child tightly and show them the love that they deserve, allowing them to understand the place that they keep in your heart and soul.
We can’t keep guns out of the hands of the bad guys, but we can certainly do more to make sure that something like this never happens again. There have been 31 school shootings since Columbine (4/20/1999) in the United States…there have only been 14 in the rest of the world COMBINED since then.
For those of you banging on the 2nd Amendment rights on Facebook and Twitter…in the words of my favorite college professor:
Posting statuses about your 2nd Ammendment right to bear arms in the aftermath of a shooting tragedy is rather like going up to the family of a drunk-driving victim immediately after the death and describing your favorite beer. Yes, it’s your right to do so. But it’s also completely tasteless.
Never forget the children and the brave teachers and staff who died in, quite possibly, the most cowardly act this side of the 9/11 attacks.