Archives for posts with tag: Sandy Hook

In a few days, children across America will make their visits to Santa and hand him their lists as to what they want for Christmas. Gifts will be exchanged, Christmas parties will take place all over the nation, milk and cookies will be left for the fat man in the red suit, snow will be on the ground and carols will be sung in neighborhoods nationwide.

There will be 26 fewer singers that will be with them. Five years ago today, while most of the nation was getting ready for school or that last second Christmas shopping, Hell was released upon a school in Connecticut. December 14 was education’s equivalent to Pearl Harbor. Today is the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook School shooting that killed 20 students and six adults that were there to protect them.

The FBI recently released records that showed that Adam Lanza planned the killings that December morning. The report, which is more than 1,500 pages long, shows evidence that Lanza planned the shootings and had an interst in chidlren as well as some proof of pedophilia but no proof that he acted on that pedophilia. The records show that Lanza, who would eventually take his own life when he was cornered by law enforcement, began planning the attack as early as March of 2011.

According to the Associated Press and the Hartford Courant, the FBI behavioral analysis unit wrote, “the shooter did not ‘snap’ but instead engaged in careful, methodical planning and preparation. The shooter was ascinated with past shootings and researched them thoroughly. The shooter shared many similar characteristics and behaviors with other active shooters.”

Lanza’s killing spree began that Friday morning when he killed his mother at their Newton, Connecticut home before moving on to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The behavioral analysis unit document did not say what evidence there was that Lanza had a pedophilic interest in children. But another document says an unidentified woman told the FBI that Lanza said adult-child sexual relationships could be “possibly beneficial to both parties.”

The woman, who said she had an “online relationship” with Lanza for more than two years before the school shooting, said Lanza did acknowledge that adult-child sexual relationships could be “unhealthy” and did not express any personal sexual interest in children. She said Lanza believed he might be asexual. She also told the FBI that Lanza compiled a spreadsheet that meticulously documented hundreds of mass murders and spree killings but she didn’t believe he would carry out a mass killing and she said Lanza believed mass murders were a symptom of a broken society and may have believed he was “saving” children from the “harmful influences” of adults during the school shooting.

The documents offer a window into the early days of the investigation, as agents chased false leads and gathered evidence of Lanza’s isolation and include reports by FBI agents who interviewed people about Lanza. Portions of many of the documents were redacted, including the people’s names.

A year after the massacre, Connecticut state police released a final investigative document that concluded Lanza was obsessed with firearms, death and mass shootings but his motive may never be known. That report also mentioned pedophilia. In it, state investigators said they found on Lanza’s computer a file they described as “advocating pedophiles’ rights and the liberation of children.” They also said they found a screenplay describing a relationship between a 10-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man.

One person told an FBI agent that Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, had become concerned about him a month before the shooting because he had become a “shut in” who hadn’t gone anywhere in three months. Adam Lanza shot his mother to death in their home before going to the school. The person also told the FBI agent Adam Lanza never accepted he had Asperger’s syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum and never took medication he was prescribed.

A report by the Connecticut child advocate in 2014 concluded Lanza’s autism spectrum disorder and other psychiatric problems didn’t cause or lead directly to the massacre. The report said Nancy Lanza rejected psychologists’ recommendations her son be medicated and undergo rigorous treatment as a child for anxiety and other conditions. It said Adam Lanza, his parents and his educators contributed to his social isolation by not confronting his problems.

Another person told the FBI that Lanza essentially had become a “recluse” who played video games all day. The person said Lanza had no friends, was computer savvy and became very interested in firearms. Lanza also did not want pets in the family home and did not like to be touched when he was getting a haircut.

So we know more now about Adam Lanza than we did that December day. Given what we know now, Lanza was a troubled soul, short of being egotistical who didn’t care for anyone but himself. Lanza knew right from wrong and in the legal sense, that’s called “depraved indifference,” in which a person that commits a crime knows that it’s wrong but does it anyway.

26 people are no longer with us and the 20 children that he shot can’t come back to us and tell us what happened. The report is long and lenghty and while some of the information has been redacted for the sake of privacy, so not to cause further harm to those family members that lost a child that day. They’ve suffered enough. Granted, Adam Lanza is not with us to tell his side of the story or face justice, which could have happened had he not taken his own life. As for the house that the Lanza family lived in? It’s been torn down. There’s nothing there.

Period.

No creature will ever stir there.

Even the birds will shun the place.

Christmas will come. Gifts will be exchanged, Santa will make his rounds and children will have their lists. It’s a sure bet that Adam Lanza made the naughty list. That December morning, while some of us were getting ready to start our school days or finish that shopping, a madman came in and caused harm that will take years if not a millenium to heal. The flaws that Adam Lanza had were exposed for all the world to see and there are those that do not want his name uttered again ever. Adam Lanza tried to drag everyone into his own Hell and failed. There will be no roads named for him, no hospitals will have his name attached to their walls and don’t expect any Adam Lanza Elementary Schools in the distant future.

The window to Adam Lanza has been opened and while the view is not paradise by any means, it gives us a clearer picture as to what happened that day and why. Some of the questions have been answered by this report. Granted, there are 26 people that will never be heard from and that includes Lanza and his mother.

December 14 fell on a Thursday this year. Those that were killed will be remembered in some form and they should not be forgotten. Five years ago today, 20 children who wanted nothing more than to sit on Santa’s lap and tell them their Christmas wishes were silence, as were the six adults that were there to teach and protect them. For those like Rush Limbaugh and Adam Jones that insist that Sandy Hook never happen, they need to read the FBI report or keep silent. As for the NRA, at best they should be held liable (if not criminally responsible) for what happened.

Let’s hope they are NOT forgotten.

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.

when the final report on the Sandy Hook School shooting comes out, a name that many do not wish to hear will be mentioned only once and for good reason. In the report that was to be finalized February 13th, one day before many American school children exchange Valentines Cards and eat Valentine’s Day snacks until they erupt like tiny volcanones will have the man that caused Newton, Connecticut grief and misery will be mentioned by name only once.

The report will mention Adam Lanza by name at first in the report, which will be made public and then listed by AL for the remainder of the report.

The 20-year old Lanza began his rampage of murder and terror on December 12 of 2012 when he shot his mother Nancy at their house in Newtown before going to the school and proceeded to kill 20 students and six teachers before taking his own life.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s Report, according to the Hartford Courant and the Associated Press, also makes recommendations to school design and mental health services. The 16-member panel was convened by Connecticut governor Daniel Malloy and recently met in Hartford for one of their final public meetings.

The report also includes proposals for better communication between local and state police, designing new schools to keep out potentially violent intruders and upgrading mental health protocols to provide help for troubled students. It also recommended the state develop support teams to deploy to schools hit by attacks or other tragedies to help administrators manage security and personnel and provide mental health services during a crisis. Commission Chairman Scott Jackson told the Associated Press and the Hartford Courant, “This is an important day in our two-year odyssey. After creating an executive summary over the next two weeks, we will be ready to finalize and release this long-awaited report.”

The commission is also debating if there are going to be 27 victims, adding Lanza’s mother to the list. They should. After all, he was his first victim.

A draft of the dedication for the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s report references 26 victims. Commissioner Harold Schwartz asked at a hearing Friday why Nancy Lanza should not also be considered a victim. Although the commission ultimately agreed to leave her name out, Schwartz suggested mentioning her at least in a footnote.

“I’m not certain it is morally right to not acknowledge her as a victim,” said Schwartz, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

The role of Nancy Lanza, who often took her son to shooting ranges and bought the rifle he would use in the school massacre, has been a vexing question in Newtown. While friends have said she did her best raising a troubled son, a report by the state’s Office of the Child Advocate concluded she contributed to his isolation as she kept him at home, surrounded by an arsenal of firearms as he whiled away hours playing violent video games. Several commission members said they had no objection to leaving the dedication intact for the 26 people killed at the school. Commissioner Adrienne Bentman asked how other victims’ families might feel about seeing Nancy Lanza’s name on the same page with those of their loved ones. While that question is somewhat vexing, others think that Nancy Lanza was and is a victim and should be included in the report.

The commission chairman, Scott Jackson, said it is impossible to know how much responsibility Nancy Lanza bears.

“I think that’s why number 27 is always so difficult, because there’s so much we don’t know,” said Jackson, the mayor of Hamden.

On that day, which ironically was a Friday, school children all over the country and even in Newtown exchanged Valentine’s Day parties in their classrooms, exchaning cards and feasting on Valentine’s Day candy. There will be 20 fewer students and six fewer adults that were not with them. They were taken from us by AL and his hate and rage. Adam Lanza could have faced justice and the worst he could or would have gotten would have been the death penalty and even then he would be sitting on death row while the appeals process does what it needs to do. Instead, Adam Lanza or AL chose the coward’s way out, shooting himself. In a few months, the house where the horror started will be turned into rubble and will exist no more.

On February 13, the world no longer heard Adam Lanza’s name. He will be a distant memory that does not deserve to be mentioned or uttered in our lifetimes ever again. As a reporter covering the hangings of the Booth conspirators in 1865 wrote, “we wish to hear their names no more.” The report will have the 20 names listed in alphabetical order, a roll call for a class if you will. Their names deserve to be mentioned along with the six adults who were doing nothing more than being their teachers, mentors, protectors and friends. 20 angels, whose parents have been cheated out of seeing them in prom dresses or tuxes, caps and gowns and even wedding dresses will have the final word. On February 13, Sandy Hook and Newtown got their wish. Adam Lanza was and is a bad memory.

We say good riddance to bad rubbish.

The people have spoken loudly. In a few days, it will be no more.

Gone.

Turned into rubble.

And if you’re thinking about taking a piece of it for yourself, think again. It’s not going to happen.

Nothing will remain.

Nihil.

The home where Adam Lanza lived will be torn down and its fate was decided by the Newtown Legislative Council. For those who had forgotten who Adam Lanaza was, he is the man that went on a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Lanza had killed his mother first before going on the rampage that killed 20 students and six adults that Friday before Christmas. According to the Hartford Courant and the Associated Press, the vote by the Newtown Legislative Council approved a proposal by the board of selectmen to raze the 3,100-square-foot home and keep the land as open space. Lanza would eventually escape justice, taking the coward’s way out by shooting and killing himself.

The house of horror and pain will remain standing until the Winter and then will be torn down. One resident said it was a “constant reminder of the evil that resided there,” after residents pleaded to have the large yellow house with green shutters destroyed. First selectwoman Pat Llorda said that she was unsure how much the demolition would cost but gave an estimate of around $27,000.

The Lanza family moved from southern New Hampshire and bought the new house in 1998. It has been sitting vacant since the shooting. Everything inside, including rugs and lighting fixtures, have been removed and incinerated so nothing could become memorabilia.

No one wants to be reminded of what happened that day. 20 young lives lost, their parents denied the pleasure of seeing them learn how to drive, graduate from high school and college and perhaps present them with grandchildren. Some that lived near the house of horror have moved, including Amy DeLoughy, whose house sits across the street, wrote to the council that her
children’s bus stop had to be moved because it was too scary for the kids to wait near the house.

Ian and Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son, Dylan, died in the shooting, have said they moved out of the neighborhood because seeing that house across the way was too painful for them.

Neighbor Dave Ackart wrote, “Not only is the property a constant reminder of the evil that resided there — those of us who walk, run, drive, ride or otherwise must pass it multiple times a day, are having a hard time moving on.”

Neighbors had been pleading with town officials to tear down the house of the mass murderer, with one resident saying it’s “a constant reminder of the evil that resided there.” Their prayers will be answered very soon. For that house to stand would be like Lanza rubbing it in from the grave.

Legislative Council member Phillip Carroll said a Sandy Hook fundraiser that brought in $1.2 million still has about $260,000 left. “The money for the demolition can come from this fund,” he said.

Llodra has asked town attorneys to write something into the deed that will prohibit the town from profiting from any future sale or development of the land. “Any proceeds, should the property ever be developed, would be for the benefit of the victims,” she said.

But neighbors say it has become a destination for macabre tourists “who still drive by and pause and take photos on a regular basis,” Ackart told the Associated Press.

While Llodra said she polled the victims’ families and neighbors and most support the plan to tear the house down, not everyone is on board with the idea of leaving the space open, some even wanting the property to be sold and a new house placed there.

“Leaving the property to nature would mean there is still a sense of darkness in our neighborhood,” one person said. “Love and light that a new family would bring would help heal some of the very deep wounds we are still tending to.”

In a few days, it will be Valentine’s Day and gifts and candy will be exchanged in classroom at Newtown and all over the nation. There will be 20 fewer faces in class that day. Gone before their time. Gone before they had a chance to make a mark on the world, along with the six adults that were there not just as their protectors but as their guides, guardians and teachers. A few days after that, trucks and bulldozers will come to the house that produced the horror that Sandy Hook was forced to endure. In a few hours, that house of horror will be nothing more than rubble. Could there be a memorial with 20 chairs or 26 trees in memory of those that died? It’s plausible. Adam Lanza deserves scorn. His name should never be uttered again in our lifetimes. Not even Satan wants anything to do with him.

Adam Lanza could have stood up to justice and be held accountable for his actions. In the bigger picture, he chose to be a coward and die at his own hand. The house where he started his spree of death and chaos sits empty, the memories that are too harsh to remember were turned to ashes. When the wrecking ball or bulldozer comes, there will be some tears shed but those will be tears of joy. The monster that caused them heartbreak and pain is dead and his castle will crumble as well. It will be like the field that Judas Isacriot was buried in, forgotten for eternity.

Adam Lanza. Cold. Callous. Sociopath. Murderer. Lanza thought he got the last word in when he killed 26 people.

In a few months, Spring will arrive in Connecticut and the people of Newtown will have the last word and give new meaning to the term “homewrecker.”

Sunday as America remember the 26 that died at Sandy Hook Elementary School two years ago, President and First Lady Obama lit 26 candles to honor the fallen as well as observing a moment of silence. Yesterday was the second anniversary of Adam Lanza’s shooting spree that started at his mother’s house, when he shot her before going to the school to kill 20 students and six teachers before eventually turning the gun on himself.

Since that day, where most of America was getting ready to send school children home for the Christmas holiday, there have been calls by citizen to take some form of action to at least prevent gun violence in our schools. Unfortunately, those calls have fallen on deafened and greedy ears. Since the December 14th Newtown killings, there have been more at least 44 school shootings on K-12 or college campuses in 24 states, according to a new report.

In a post on the Washington Post’s website, Marie Corfield, an art teacher in New Jersey, an activist and more importantly, a mother, wrote an open letter to elected officials not just asking them to do something. She begged them. The letter appeared on her blog, which she gave the newspaper permission to post.

Here’s the letter in its entirity.

Dear Elected Officials,

Two years ago today I stood in the hallway of my K-4 school and said to a coworker, “Did you hear? There was another school shooting—at an elementary school. They shot kindergarteners.” I remember looking at the little ones who were passing us on their way to class and thinking, it could have been them; it could have been us. According to Moms Demand Action, there have been almost 100 school shootings since that horrendous day at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 children and 6 adults were murdered by an insane gunman.

It’s been two years since the parents of those children hugged them tight and said goodbye as they walked into their school for the very last time.

Two years, and nothing has been done, but not for lack of trying on the parts of some very dedicated public servants on both sides of the aisle. Why? Why are only some of you trying and not every single one of you?

“It’s not the right time to talk about gun violence,” you say.

“We have to let the families mourn,” you say.

“We don’t want to politicize such a tragic event,” you say.

Well, I say, “Baloney!” Every single time a child dies from gun violence—whether in Newtown, Connecticut Newark, New Jersey, is the exact time we should talk about preventing it. Gun violence is a preventable public health crisis. If We the People truly love our children—all children—we would make saving them our top priority.

Thanks to those of you who are more afraid of offending the gun lobby than protecting our children, our schools have become prisons for the innocent. Every door is locked at all times lest an intruder find a closet or empty classroom in which to hide. Fire drills are now accompanied by a new set of drills with menacing names like ‘active shooter’, ‘lock down’, ‘lock out’ or ‘Code C’ (C for Columbine?) And the students know why—even the little ones. They know and they’re afraid but we do our best to calm their fears and change the subject. Back in the 50′s and 60′s when ‘duck and cover’ drills were practiced, it was because of a threat from a place beyond most young children’s comprehension: the Soviet Union or Cuba, somewhere over ‘there’, far away. Now the threat is very real, yet completely unpredictable. Is it that kid in 3rd period chemistry or the one who always sits by himself at lunch or the star football player? Who knows which one will snap, and when—and if they’ll have a gun?

While many of you have been busy slashing education funding to the bone, school districts across this country are scraping together scarce resources to upgrade entrances to make them impervious to gunfire, installing bullet-proof glass, metal detectors, baggage scanners, panic buttons, state-of-the-art surveillance systems, and devices that can instantly detect a sexual predator simply by scanning a drivers license. More and more now have armed police on premises all day. I’m sorry but I didn’t see a line item for these expenses in the recent appropriations bill. Did I miss something?

Because of your failure to act, school culture has also changed. What was once harmless child’s play is now grounds for suspension. Drawing a battle scene between aliens and soldiers on a piece of paper could land a second grader in the guidance office. Darth Vader must leave his light saber home during the Halloween parade.

All this keeps children safe but it does not keep them free. You imprison them and the nation because you are more beholden to the gun lobby and its big checkbook than you are to the will and safety of the American people—including many responsible gun owners. The more schools feel like prisons, the shorter the school to prison pipeline becomes.

The new normal for many of America’s children is anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder because they live with the daily fear and the real possibility of being injured or killed by a gun. For some, the feeling is merely background noise like, ‘look both ways before crossing the street, and be careful because some lunatic with a gun could kill me in school’. For others it’s a 50-piece marching band parading through their head because now, not only are their neighborhoods and homes not safe from gun violence, their schools—the one place where many gained respite—are perceived unsafe, too. It alters their brain chemistry. It keeps them from learning and living and becoming the best version of themselves.

In a few short weeks many of you will be sworn in to begin a new term of service but who will you serve? It has become glaringly apparent in light of recent Supreme Court decisions that the will of the people has been usurped by the will of corporations and powerful lobbies. When does a child’s right to live supersede the wants of the NRA? When do all of you who wear the Bible on your sleeve, who are so concerned about what goes on inside a woman’s body, start putting the Fifth Commandment before the Second Amendment when it comes to protecting children from gun violence?

In order for the Constitution to work, we need laws that strengthen and enhance its tenets. There is more than enough room in our society for the Second Amendment and sensible gun legislation. We need national laws that make the consequences of illegal sales, possession, use and trafficking of firearms swift and severe. We need background checks for every, single gun purchase. And we need laws that will help keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. These laws can be enacted without compromising the rights of the millions of law-abiding gun owners but that requires you to serve We, the People not We, the Corporations.

Despite Governor Christie’s best efforts, a recent report says that I live in one of the safest states in the nation in terms of gun violence. That said, the lives of too many children in New Jersey are ended by a bullet. Clearly, the state still has work to do:

New Jersey still doesn’t require a background check for every firearm sale and has not passed a law banning .50-caliber rifles… Nearly 75 percent of guns discovered at crime scenes in the state were imported from outside New Jersey…

“Unfortunately, trafficked firearms purchased in nearby states with weak gun laws are inundating New Jersey,” said the report, which called for a new strong federal statute to make gun trafficking a federal crime. (emphasis mine)

While the article goes on to say that a recent Pew Research Center poll found that “52 percent of Americans favor gun rights, compared with 46% opting for gun control”, Media Matters reports that the polling questions are deeply flawed and do not accurately reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans. So, please don’t hide behind the banner of the “will of the people” on this one because it just ain’t so.

I was in Frenchtown, New Jersey in March 2013 when 26 cyclists from Newtown, dressed in Sandy Hook’s colors of green and white, stopped by on their way to Washington, DC to lobby for stricter gun control legislation. I heard their impassioned calls to end the slaughter of our children. I listened to Mike Pohle, a fellow Raritan Township resident, choke back tears as he talked about the tragic loss of his teenage son in the Virginia Tech massacre. The Newtown Action Alliance wasn’t calling for an all-out gun ban. They simply wanted common sense reforms like those mentioned above. But that didn’t happen because too many of you were more concerned about the green of your campaign coffers than the green of the ribbons they wore.

The loss of a child is the greatest tragedy anyone will ever face. During this holiday season, in far too many homes across this country, stockings will be hung, candles lit, places set, gifts wrapped and prayers said for children who are no longer there. Scabs will be ripped off, old wounds exposed, hearts broken all over again as families remember what was and grieve for what could have been. Corporations won’t be doing that. Neither will lobbies. Their doors will be closed, the lights off, they will be home with their families.

Please remember that as you celebrate the season with your family, with your children. Please remember that when you are sworn in next month. Please remember to do what’s right, not what’s easy. The very lives of our children are depending on you.

Sincerely,

Marie

Marie’s letter makes a lot of sense. There is plenty of room at the table for those that want to keep children safe as well as those that want to own guns. It’s not that we want to punish the ones that are following the rules, going through background checks and making sure their weapons are secure when they’re not in use, it’s about our elected leaders that say they listen to us and yet take donations from the NRA. Nothing against the NRA but it’s time that they step up and do what’s right. It’s time that our elected leaders on both sides of the aisle listen to the people that put them in office, not the special interest groups and surely not the NRA.

The 2nd Amendment says you have the right to own a gun. Fine. I can accept that and I don’t have a problem with it. It doesn’t give anyone the right to go into a school and kill 26 people, like Adam Lanza did. The sad thing is that Adam Lanza escaped justice when he turned the gun on himself. It’s time to fix the flaws. It’s time to do what is right, not what is popular, as Paul wrote in the New Testament. Sandy Hook was a tragedy that might have been averted if Lanza’s mother had said no to him having a gun. We’re getting tired of funerals for children.

Common sense reforms. Plain and simple.

Again, it’s not about punishing the ones that are playing by the rules, it’s keeping the ones that don’t need or deserve to have a gun in check and away from them if not for our good, then for theirs.

20 parents will never see their children open gifts this Christmas. They will never have the satisfaction of seeing them drive a car for the first time, go to prom, graduate from high school and college and will never have grandchilren. They are gone forver. They can’t come back to speak to us, short of the second coming. Doing what’s right is a lot better than easy. It’s hard and there are going to be some that will disagree. That’s fine. At least there’s a dialouge going on. We all need to come to the table and listen to each other, not talk at each other, not say “you’re wrong and I’m right.” We can agree to disagree and that’s fine. That’s the thing that makes this nation what it is. Yelling at each other does nothing but gets your blood pressure up and a sore throat.

It’s time to listen to our better angels. After all, it’s what the 20 kids that died would have wanted.

Two years ago, while America was preparing to send their schoolchildren home for the Christmas holidays, there was an event that took place that should have never happened. It happened on a Friday, when most of America was shopping for the holidays, getting ready to wrap presents and go to Christmas parties. It was an event that shocked the world.

A young man named Adam Lanza chose not to listen to his better angels and committed an act that shocked the world in general as well as the educational world. Lanza took matters into his own hands, shot his mother in cold blood and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary school, killing 26 people. Of those 26 people, 20 of them were children whose parents were deprived
of seeing them open their Christmas presents, ride their new bikes, play with their dolls or other toys. Their parents, grandparents and other relatives and friends will never again have the pleasure of seeing them ride their new shiny
bikes on Christmas morning or watch them open their presents.

20 young lives. Gone. Taken from us too early. 20 angels that did nothing to this man other than being children.

A troubled soul with mental health issues, he was also a loner that communicated with his mother only by email, even though they lived in the same house. She said he hadn’t left the home in three months and disliked birthdays, Christmas and holidays, not allowing his mother to put up a Christmas tree and also had her get rid of the family cat because he did not want the animal in the house. As for his room in the house, no one was allowed entry, including Nancy Lanza, who would be his first victim.

When Lanza had his hair cut, he did not like to be touched and did not like the sound of clippers, so they were not used much. He would sit with his hands in his lap and always look down, giving one word answers if the cutter tried to engage him in conversation. Adam Lanza made Adolf Hitler look like a Boy Scout. Adam Lanza was a coward, choosing to take his own life when he was eventually cornered instead of surrending. Cowards don’t get schools, parks, stadiums, libraries or even hospitals named for them. Rather, they get scorn and diresion, not just from the victims but from their families and friends.

20 young lives snuffed out at a time where most children are making their lists to send to the Fat Man at the North Pole. Christmas is supposed to be not only a time of joy but a time of litugical celebration. Last year, the 26 that died that Friday afternoon were remembered. Tears were shed as their names were mentioned either in church services, on the airwaves or the internet but there was be some laughter as well.

On a Friday morning in 2012, when most of America’s school children were ready for a day of learning, a crazed man with an agenda of malice, anger and hate in his heart tried to take joy away from those that were attending Sandy Hook Elementary School. On that day, he fought a battle with himself and lost. Some thought that he suffered from austim or Addison’s Disease. We’re not sure if that is the case and that door has been closed to us forever by history. Adam Lanza though he was going to be “grinch-like” in his behavior. There are still questions that are being asked and the answers may never come.

26 people. 26 innocent people who agendas were nothing more than to teach, learn, laugh, play and love are gone. They cannot come back and speak to us. If they could, they would tell us to move forward. They would tell us to teach, learn, laugh, play.

They would also tell us clearly to love, even the ones that harm us, the message that Christ and Martin Luther King chose to speak. Those 26 that he killed that day now belong to the angels and will be remembered by those they left behind. Adam Lanza chose not to listen to his better angels. For the sake of those that were lost that day, we must for our own good and the good of others.

The shooting two years ago sends a message that our schools need to be safer for those that are students and those that work there, whether they are teachers, secretaries, lunchroom staff, paraprofessionals, et al. It also sends a message that there needs to be tougher gun control laws without doing away with the right to own a gun with the provision that the owner is responsible, does not have a criminal record or has a mental defect. It’s not the law-abiding citizens that are the problem, the problem is the NRA and our elected leaders. 26 people are dead and short of the Ressurection, will never come back to us. It is time that our elected leaders listen to their better angels, unlike Adam Lanza. When we sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” at our Midnight services, where ever we are, don’t just sing. Listen to the 26 angels who didn’t need to or deserve to die.

It’s time to hush the noise and cease the strife.

And hear 26 angels sing.

While most schools have already started and others will start after Labor Day, a letter was written to teachers in Sandy Hook. It wasn’t just any letter. It was a letter written by the mother of one of the young victims. It was a letter that needs to be read by everyone.

Nebla Marquez-Greenhad is the mother of two children that attended Sandy Hook Elementary; they were both present the day of the shooting, but tragically her daughter Ana Grace was killed in the massacre. Her letter, which was posted on the Education Week website, is so powerful. It goes out to all teachers but anyone that works with children, whether they’re teachers, paraprofessionals, volunteers, coaches, et all as well as the gun right zealots need to read this.

Here is the entire letter, courtesy of the Education Week website.

“As another school year begins and old routines settle back into place, I wanted to share my story in honor of the teachers everywhere who care for our children.  

I lost my 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace on December 14, 2012, in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My son, who was in the building and heard the shooting, survived.  

While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith and love.

As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith and love.

It takes guts to be a teacher. Six brave women gave their lives trying to protect their students at Sandy Hook. Other teachers were forced to run from the building, stepping over the bodies of their friends and colleagues and they came right back to work.

When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, “Because they are my kids. And my students need me now more than ever.” She sent daily updates on my son’s progress, from his behavior to what he’d eaten for lunch. And four months later, when my son finally smiled one day after school, I asked him about it. His response? “Mom. My teacher is so funny. I had an epic day.”

While I pray you will never find yourself in the position of the teachers at Sandy Hook, your courage will support students like my son, who have lived through traumas no child should have to.

Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow.  

When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools.  

Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts.
 
Have faith that your hard work is having a profound impact on your students. Of the 15,000 personal letters I received after the shooting, only one stays at my bedside. It’s from my high school English teacher, Robert Buckley.  

But you can’t be courageous or step out on faith without a deep love for what you do.  

Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall. Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all.  

When my son returned to school in January, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Imagine the difficulty in sending your surviving child into a classroom when you lost your baby in a school shooting. We sent him because we didn’t want him to be afraid.

We sent him because we wanted him to understand that while our lives would never be the same, our lives still needed to move forward. 

According to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly half of America’s children will have suffered at least one childhood trauma before the age of 18. They need your love.  

A few weeks before the shooting, Ana Grace and I shared a special morning. Lunches were packed and clothes were picked out the night before, so we had extra time to snuggle. And while I lay in bed with my beautiful caramel princess, she sensed that I was distracted and asked, “What’s the matter, Mom?” I remember saying to her, “Nothing, baby. It’s just work.” She looked at me for a very long time with a thoughtful stare, then she told me, “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom.”  

As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry.”  

This school year, pray for the teachers, the children and the parents. Keep everyone in your thoughts and may God protect them. Life and love are precious gifts; never take them for granted. 

6-year old Ana Grace will never get to read that letter, play with her classmates on the playground or be in a Christmas pagent. Her short life on this Earth came to a tragic end the week before Christmas when a gunman with nothing on his agenda but anger and hate came to her school and shot 26 people, of which 20 were her classmates and six teachers. There needs to be a civil and serious dialouge about guns and school violence. 20 kids will never know the experience of meeting new teachers and classmates, they’ll never get to trade lunches in the lunchrooms, go to recess or fingerpaint. A madman that pulled the trigger will never face justice because he chose to be a coward and take himself out of the picture.

While there are some of us that are saying that guns are bad, it’s not the gun that is the problem. It’s the person that pulls the trigger that is the problem. We need to work together to strenghten the laws that are on the books, not weaken them. The right to own a gun is not the issue. The issue is that there are those that do not deserve to have a weapon, due to a criminal record, mental instablity or a dishonest gun salesman that put money over lives and doesn’t do the background checks.

26 lives lost. Gone. Never to walk this Earth again. The best thing we as a community can do is to make sure our children are safe and if it means changing a law that benefits the living while making sure that law-abiding gun owners have their rights protected, then so be it. It’s not about taking away guns. It’s about keeping them out of the hands of those that don’t deserve or need them.

As children walk into their schools, whether they are public, private or parochial this Fall, let’s remember those that will not walk into a school because of gun violence, including those in Sandy Hook and hope they walk out of them better than we dropped them off in the morning, fed, educated, loved.

And safe.