Today marks the five year anniversary of the senseless tragedy that shook America to its core. I know I’m not alone when I say that December 14, 2012 is a day that’s as permanently ingrained in my memory as 9/11. What transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut a half-decade ago was (and will always be) simply beyond comprehension.
A Day I’ll Never Forget
It’s unsettling just how vividly I remember that day. It was my prep period, and I was grading papers inside my empty 6th grade classroom. I glanced up at my computer screen to see the “Breaking News” ticker scrolling right to left, alerting readers of a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. When the first reports were coming in, there was no mention of any injuries. That’s what made my stomach drop.
You see, I’ve come to the realization that when these mass shootings take place, media outlets are quick to offer up the comforting news that there are little to no injuries to report. However, if the reality of the event is truly troubling, most outlets find it better to wait, gather the facts (as they should), and figure out a way to convey to a national audience the sobering news of innocent lives lost.
As the day went on, the horrific truth as to what took place inside what should be the safest place for any child become known. All I wanted to do was hold my newborn son, who wasn’t even 5 months old at the time, and tell him that I’d always protect him from the evils that silently lurk in the places you’d never expect. Then it hit me…
An Unsettling Truth
Without a shadow of a doubt, the parents of the 20 young children who perished that day loved their kids just as much as I loved the little baby boy that was, at that moment, curled flawlessly in my arms; a perfect ball of unconditional love. Yet, they weren’t able to protect them. It was a moment of realization that brought me to tears as my wide-eyed offspring gazed into my eyes with an accompanied smile that could fill the coldest of hearts with the unparalleled warmth of sunshine.
In my sadness, I understood that I won’t always be there for my children. I can’t be there every second of every day to ensure they’re safe and sound. Of course I wish it were possible. However, it’s just not in the cards. All we can do is shower our children with love and affection day in and day out.
Where Do We Go From Here?
We must look at each day as a new opportunity to help our children see the beauty in this chaotic world. As parents, we have the chance to assist our kids in becoming beacons of love and hope, leaders of a world in need of optimism and resolve.
It’s vital we work to ensure that the 20 blindingly bright young souls and 6 dedicated educators did not lose their lives for nothing. Through the flood of tears and what feels like an unrelenting crushing of our collective soul under the weight of unspeakable grief, we must strive to make our this world a better place for our children.
Sneak into your kids’ bedrooms and give them one more tight squeeze, a gentile kiss on the forehead, and a whispered reminder of your never-ending love.
To each victim of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, know you’ll never be forgotten. May your spirit rest eternally in peace.
Dedicated the victims of the Sandy Hook Shooting (December 14, 2012).
1. Charlotte Bacon (DOB 2/22/06)
2. Daniel Barden (9/25/05)
3. Rachel Davino (7/17/83)
4. Olivia Engel (7/18/06)
5. Josephine Gay (12/11/05)
6. Ana M. Marquez-Greene (4/4/06)
7. Dylan Hockley (3/8/06)
8. Dawn Hocksprung (6/28/65)
9. Madeleine F. Hsu (7/10/06)
10. Catherine V. Hubbard (6/8/06)
11. Chase Kowalski (10/31/05)
12. Jesse Lewis (6/30/06)
13. James Mattioli (3/22/06)
14. Grace McDonnell (11/04/05)
15. AnneMarie Murphy (07/25/60)
16. Emilie Parker (5/12/06)
17. Jack Pinto (5/6/06)
18. Noah Pozner (11/20/06)
19. Caroline Previdi (9/7/06)
20. Jessica Rekos (5/10/06)
21. Avielle Richman (10/17/06)
22. Lauren Russeau (6/1982)
23. Mary Sherlach (2/11/56)
24. Victoria Soto (11/4/85)
25. Benjamin Wheeler (9/12/06)
26. Allison N. Wyatt (7/3/06)
Until next time…
The Pondering Father