WASHINGTON, December 15, 2012 – Is there a lesson to be learned from Sandy Hook Elementary School? Portland, Oregon? Aurora, Colorado? Virginia Tech or Columbine?
Is there a lesson to be learned when a bright and caring woman, like 27-year-old Victoria Soto, is gunned down while simply teaching her kindergarten class? Murdered while protecting her “kids”, as she called them, from the rage of a madman?
Is there a lesson to be learned from the young boy who ran, with his classmates, past the gunman who just killed his teacher, stopping to help a friend lagging behind, or holding open the door for his schoolmates?
Is there a lesson to be learned in the relief on a parent’s face, as they speak of their child surviving, relief quickly replaced by the quivered lip, the catch in the voice, as they remember the horror and loss that their friends and neighbors are feeling as they take steps to bury their children, sisters, brothers, mothers, wives, friends in the days before Christmas?
It is hard to see the candles, in the Christmas luminaries, the single lights in the darkness that together shine a bright light to illuminate the hurt and the healing that Newtown is feeling. If that combined light has meaning, it is that in this tragedy, like so many others before it, there are stories of those who stopped, despite their fear, to help others.
You simply cannot watch the vigil for Veronica Soto, or the father of Emilie Parker speaking of his beautiful child without tears streaming down your face.
Looking into forever six-years-old Emilie’s deep blue eyes, and falling into the smile on her face, one cannot wonder why a child, any child, would be subject to such a violent death. The medical examiner says that each child was shot between three and eleven times – a truth that brings such pain, such insult to the injury and heartbreaking hurt that we all feel.
But children die in this world every day.
They die from warring drug lords, starvation, brutal dictators, hunger, and disease – things easily managed in first world countries, but killers in third world countries where children die every day. And every child whose life is brutal and whose death is violent erodes who we are as a people.
Regardless of what country we are from, what religion we subscribe to. The color of our skin. Or the name of our God.
And with every child that dies, so does a piece of our combined human soul. Whether in Syria, or at Sandy Hook, the murder of the light of the innocent brings a greater darkness to our world.
As we think of the children, the teachers senselessly murdered, we must also think of the family of the shooter, as Emilie Alice Parker’s father publicly has. We must remember the mother brutally killed, the father, brother, aunt and cousins who not only live with the loss of someone they love, but also the guilt that their son, brother, nephew, cousin has done the unspeakable.
Is there a lesson to be learned? There is the practical. Gun laws obviously need amended. Education needs to be stronger. Persons who own assault rifles need to think twice about having them in their home and if in their home, it is their responsibility to keep us safe from them failing into the wrong hands.
Then there are the harder things to do: being better parents, better citizens, better neighbors, better people who are more aware of those who are amongst us. Being more aware of someone that may need help, a smile, and finding the wherewithal to give them that help.
Because we will learn that there were cues. Indications. A time when someone could have done something, but didn’t.
Is there a lesson to be learned when children die?
The only one that we can possibly grasp is that life is precious and that this loss is brutally tragic, and so very permanent.
In memory of those that died, we remember them, we grieve with the families and loved ones. And we should each stop, take a moment and promise to be better in their memory:
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hocksprung, 47
Madeline F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Russeau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N Wyatt, 6
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