At 9:36am, on Friday the 14th of December, Newtown Police received a phonecall informing them that there was a gunman in Sandy Hook Elementary School. Their day had barely begun, but for 20 children, 6 members of staff and the shooter’s own mother it was to be the last morning they would ever see.
Now I don’t know about you, but it always saddens me when I hear of these massacres. I could write about how guns need to be banned, about how gun laws need to be tightened or about how America’s gun crime record is so much higher than anywhere else, but the point is that’s not going to bring these people back. Nothing can do that.
These are families that have been torn apart just before Christmas for no apparant reason. Children who won’t get to hang up their stockings this year, who won’t get to open their presents the next day. They’ll never know their first kiss, their first job, exams or what it feels like to graduate from school, college or university. They’ll never get to eat their favourite meal again, they’ll never hear another bedtime story and they’ll never get to say “I love you” to their parents that one more time. They’ll never know if the world really does end. There are families who will never get to see the joy in their child’s eyes as they open that present that they wanted so badly. Never again will they dance about, run around, play games and just be children. Young, innocent children ready to grab life with both hands and give it their all.
Never forgetting the staff who died trying to save them. Many of us will have heard the story of teacher Vicki Soto who upon hearing the first rounds of gunfire hid her first graders in the classroom’s cupboards, then when Lanza came to the door she told him that they were in the gym. He shot her there and then, before moving on to the next classroom. Brave Miss Soto saved the lives of all her pupils, an act of heroism for which she will always be remembered. 6 staff died in total- 4 teachers, the head teacher and the educational psychologist. The rest of the staff now need to come to terms with losing 6 colleagues, and they need to go back to work knowing that they won’t be in the staff room that break to share stories and ideas. They were people with families too, families that are going to have an empty seat at the table this Christmas.
It’s not just the families though. A thought needs to be spared for the people who lost a friend or a neighbour. The children who lost a classmate or a teacher. For the children who will be traumatised by the death they saw and the shots that they heard. So many children are going to have to walk to school alone after Christmas, and they’re going to have to find new friends in the playground. They’re going to have to pick somebody else to sit next to at their birthday party because their best friend won’t be there. They may seem like trivial issues, but to a 7 year old they mean the world.