Parents of young children know this time of the year leaves the refrigerator covered in holiday art. Unfortunately for parents in one small town, they now know the shortness of breath and pain that comes with a phone call, letting them know that their children will not be coming home. On Friday Dec. 14 the nation’s heart became heavy as news of the second worst school shooting in U.S. history took place in Newtown, Conn.
At approximately 9:30 a.m a gunman, confirmed to be 20-year-old Adam Lanza, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire, resulting in the deaths of 20 children and six faculty members. Before the shooting Lanza killed his own mother, Nancy Lanza, 52 years of age, in his house. Following the school shooting Adam Lanza took his own life, thus making the death toll 28.
On Saturday Dec. 15 the names and ages of the victims were released. The 20 first graders that were killed were between the ages of 6 and 7. Dawn Hochsprung, 47, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, was slain in attempt to tackle Lanza and stop the rampage. Teachers Annie Marie Murphy, 52, Lauren Rousseau, 30, Victoria Soto, 27, and the school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, died protecting and shielding their pupils.
In the wake of the recent tragedy the town of 27,000 came together in prayer and mourning. Candlelit vigils, interfaith services and memorials were set up to help the community members grieve and come to terms with the misfortune that befell Sandy Hook Elementary.
“Those 20 children were just beautiful, beautiful children…There are a lot of brighter stars up there tonight because of those kids,” said Monsignor Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima Church during a service on Friday.
President Barrack Obama held an emotional press conference hours after the attack. “Our hearts are broken today,” Obama said stopping multiple times to compose himself, while two aids stood nearby crying and holding hands in comfort. “As a country we have been through this too many times, whether it would be an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago. These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children.” The father of two then vowed to take “meaningful action regardless of the politics.” Obama is scheduled to visit Newtown on Sunday, Dec. 16 to both thank emergency officials and convey the nations condolences to the families of the victims.
“As a teacher it makes me nervous because when I heard about it, I thought what would I do in that situation,” said Bloomsburg student Randie Wilson. “Being a preschool teacher for five years, I couldn’t imagine how I would react to being in that situation since I’m going to school to be a kindergarten teacher. It just makes me want to take more precautions. ”
Whether it be a natural disaster, like recent Hurricane Sandy, or a senseless massacre in a movie theater, there is a time for grieving and a time for rebuilding. “I think if it happened at where I was teaching, I would give everyone time to mourn and be sad about it…have them recognize that it happened and let them feel sad about it, but also take steps so it won’t happen again. Make them feel safe. The number one thing that they’re going to have to do is make sure children and their parents feel safe and know it won’t happen again,” Wilson said regarding the next steps towards healing.
This holiday season will prove to be the most trying time for the families of all those lost in this senseless crime. The lights on their trees will not shine as bright, but just as Weiss said, there will be 27 brighter stars in the night sky this holiday season.