By John Jericiau
It’s gut-wrenching to see and horrifying to hear. I cried privately, sneaking some peeks of the news on the upstairs television so the boys won’t get exposed to this horror. Twenty children, just a tad older than my sons, gunned down for some unknown reason in the safety of their own elementary school. Six adults who were there to protect those children, also killed. A principal who loved her job and spent the last few minutes of her life fulfilling her duties to help the little ones who look up to her everyday, dead from multiple gun shots.
I imagine the kids were knee-deep in paper, scissors, and glue, working on a holiday project to take home to their adoring families. This savage event hit an average town in Connecticut, but it could have been anywhere, which makes it even more scary. Once the murderer ended his own life, the school was immediately on lock down. This scenario has been playing out a lot lately throughout our nation; in fact the phrase “lock down” is quickly being irreversibly linked to any school or work massacre and the subsequent action taken by the local authorities.
Quickly the news spread to the parents and the community, perhaps by some email blast or tweet or text message. Parents reacted exactly how any parent would react; they screamed to the campus where they were met by a locked and bolted gate with no way in. With no news on their own children or the fate of the others, parents spent excruciating hours waiting for something/someone to come with information, supposedly to allow time for a gathering of forensic evidence (like DNA and other substances which we as a country have also gotten all too familiar with). Finally children began to slowly trickle out, probably depending on who they interviewed first for any first-hand information on what went down. I could imagine being that waiting parent – studying the silhouette and the walk of each child as they are heading for the exit gate to figure out if it was my child or not. The child gets closer and at first your mind tricks you into believing that YES it is my child but as they get even closer your heart sinks to your feet when you realize it’s not yours. One by one the children are reunited and the parents escape from the area as quickly as possible like they would if a hurricane were coming. You watch them drive away and wish so hard that it was you and your child that were driving away, far away. More and more children file out, and finally at the end of the line is a somber-looking man in a suit who arrives at the gate to give the news to the remaining couple of dozen parents or so: there are no more children left who can walk out on their own, and you still can’t enter because this is an active crime scene. Screams and sobs permeate the area until there are no more tears and no more voices left.
When you have your own children you can’t help but worry about their safety. Not that I wasn’t worried already, but shouldn’t it be difficult to get on the school campus? The school is a collection of our most prized possessions – shouldn’t they be guarded? The local museum – even the local supermarket – are more guarded than our schools.
Is it time for a change?