I watched the coverage on television regarding the Newtown elementary school massacre this afternoon. A ten-year old boy, who was inside the school during the shooting, offered his words about what he witnessed. He’s alive because a teacher pulled him out of a hallway into a classroom. He said the teacher kept saying “We just need to get to a safe place.”
Those words struck me. I am not certain what a safe place is anymore.
Where are we safe?
In the last 30 years, since 1982, America has witnessed 61 mass murders. Where did these occur? In 1999, at a Christian rock concert in Fort Worth, Texas, a man killed 7 people by opening fire near a church. In 2003, an employee at Lockheed Martin shot 14 people at his place of work.. For the last several years, mass killing sprees have occurred at high schools, on Capitol Hill, a cafe, a movie theater, a Sikh Temple, shopping malls, colleges, and today, at an elementary school.
Like others, I am not filled with any real answers. I just know that ordinary people everyday walk into everyday places expecting to come out alive. What filled me with real terror is that I have a daughter who is almost seven years old and attends elementary school. This morning she hugged me fierce and as she walked to the school and I had every expectation to pick her up in the afternoon. It’s so automatic that I don’t think about it. Those parents in Newtown had the very same legitimate expectation.
Some children this morning said their last I love you’s, offered their last hugs and kisses, and said their last goodbyes today. They won’t be celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, graduations, weddings, or looking at the smiles of their own children.
Tears stream down my face as I write this. I keep thinking those children thought they were safe.