Christmas came.

Christmas went.

The gifts were opened, the toys played with over and over again until either the batteries died or they were broken.

For 20 families in Newtown, Connecticut, there were 20 less children playing with toys. 20 less children filled with joy and glee over the gift they had been writing Santa to and bugging their parents about. 20 less little angels trying to get peeks at Santa to see if he’s real and the reindeer fly.

December 14 of 2012 for some of us was just another school day. It marked the one week period to Christmas break. It was a normal day for some until a madman came in and destroyed the peace and quiet of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

On that day, 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza terrorized the town 49 miles south of Hartford, with a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle — killing 20 schoolchildren, six school staffers, his mother and himself. The town’s quiet downtown Main Street has been stripped of any ribbons, memorials and mementos of that horrible day.

Adam Lanza was no Santa Claus that day. Adam Lanza was more like the Grinch and Scrooge rolled into one. But unlike Lanza, even the Grinch and Scrooge had a heart and soul and knew that their actions were wrong and chose to make the change. They chose to listen to their better angels. Adam Lanza? He did not.

Few memories are left of that day. The house where Lanza started his murder spree when he shot and killed his mother is gone. Torn down, never to rise again. However, there is hope and like the mythical bird the Phoenix, on the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary school, a new elementary is rising where the old one was knocked down. After becoming a crime scene, the old Sandy Hook Elementary was razed in 2013 and last week construction workers were building a new school on the same Dickinson Drive property. The new building is rising near where the old one stood but not in its exact footprint — the plan is to leave the tragic site as green space. The flagpole from the old school will be the only relic of the place where the attack happened.

“No one is going to forget what happened,” said George Marnelakis, who owns the Blue Colony Diner in town. He told the Hartford Courant, “We don’t need reminders. I don’t think anyone wants to talk about it. The families want to heal.” One of Newtown’s few markers for those lost three years ago is an angel statue standing near St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, where many of the funerals were held.

Retired Newtown Police Officer Mike Brokaw, 60, recently took a minute to reflect in front of the small monument, known as the “Angel of Hope.” Someone had placed white flowers in the angel’s outstretched hands. “I remember when the call came in. I ran over there,” he said. “It was a hard thing to even fathom. It was an unbelievable scenario.”

While 20 children died, let’s not forget the six adults at the school that tried to save the children that were in their care. They took the term “in loco parentis” to the highest of heights, standing up to Lanza and dying in their efforts to save those that were injured and keep the death toll down.

In a few days or so, schools will reopen for the second half of the school year. A few days after that will be MLK Day, then Valentine’s Day, then Spring, Easter and the last day of school. For some, when that last day of school comes, children will leave and enjoy their Summers off. That will not be the case for the 20 that died that Friday morning in Newton. They were innocent victims that probably didn’t know Adam Lanza from any other adult that walked through that school.

20 fewer children and six fewer adults celebrated Christmas on this Earth December 25th in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza’s actions that day if nothing else should tell us that it is time that we have a discussion about gun control, even if it means that one side would have to be taken to the table kicking and screaming. This was no hoax, it wasn’t staged and there wasn’t a director yelling “cut” a the end. It was real. Let me say it again, it was REAL and people that didn’t need to die or deserve to die did so. It’s time that the NRA join the rest of us in the real world and take some form of responsibility, not washing their hands like Pilate.

This is not about taking guns away from those that purchase them legally, it’s about keeping them out of the hands of those that don’t need or deserve them.

Adam Lanza was irresponsible that morning. He knew right from wrong and chose wrong. Adam Lanza could have faced justice and probably would have been treated fairly. He probably would have been punished but he would have been treated fairly. Instead, Adam Lanza chose to take himself out by shooting and eventually killing himself.

Newton continues to move on. What happened cannot be undone. You can’t un-ring a bell, as the saying goes. Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, they will find comfort.” For the 20 children and six adults that died that December morning, they celebrated Christmas in Heaven with the angels.

Like the scene in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” there were empty chairs. Those 20 children will never grow up and have the experience of seeing their own children get up on Christmas morning. Adam Lanza may have taken the physical and he may have taken the emotional but he failed at taking the spirit of Christmas. Adam Lanza’s name hopefully will never be uttered again in that town, unless a swear word follows it. He deserves our scorn and anger.

God bless us, everyone.

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