There are no words. Just heart wrenching images. Forever ingrained into our hearts and souls are the aftermath pictures of the Connecticut shooting. A human chain of children being ushered to safety with arms linked together and eyes tightly shut to shield themselves from the horrifying images all around them. Parents anxiously waiting at the firehouse, terror etched on their faces as they hope and pray for the chance to wrap their arms around their children once again. Surreal images of children clinging to parents, firemen huddled together, no one truly able to comprehend what they had just witness and survived. Our Commander In Chief wiping away a tear as he pauses, trying not to succumb to the emotions we all were experiencing as the news unfolded. Fear. Anger. Heartache. Loss. Raw gut wrenching emotions.
These emotions will only multiply as new images will start appearing. The innocent faces of those killed. In alphabetical order they are: Charlotte Bacon (6), Daniel Barden (7), Olivia Engel (6), Josephine Gay (7), Ana M. Marquez-Greene (6), Dylan Hockley (6), Madeleine F. Hsu (6), Catherine V. Hubbard (6), Chase Kowalski (7), Jesse Lewis (6), James Mattioli (6), Grace McDonnell (7), Emilie Parker (6), Jack Pinto (6), Noah Pozner (6), Caroline Previdi (6), Jessica Rekos (6), Aveille Richman (6), Benjamin Wheeler ( 6), Allison N. Wyatt (6), Rachel Davino (29), Dawn Hocksprung (47 -principal), Anne Marie Murphy ( 52), Lauren Russeau (30), Mary Sherlach (56 - counselor), Victoria Soto (27 - teacher).
20 of them were children who, as our president lamented “had their entire lives ahead of them.” At least a handful more were adults who dedicated their lives to securing the future of so many – teachers and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary. And it is my deepest wish that as painful as those pictures will be, it is important to take the time to took at them, get to know them and honor the legacy that they left behind. Especially after an act so senseless, it is important to pay respect to those lost. To give their lives (regardless of how tragically short) meaning and purpose.
Already stories of heroism are starting to filter out. Principal Dawn Hochsprung sprinted toward the classroom when she heard the first shot and according to some reports lunged at the shooter to stop him. Teacher Victoria Soto hid her students in a closet and died shielding all of them from the shooter when he entered her room. The school custodian ran through the halls warning teachers and students to “Get down” and “Hide.” A six-year-old boy grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door when the gunman burst through the door and shot their teacher. Another boy who knew karate bravely told his classmates, "It's OK. I'll lead the way out.
But perhaps the most poignant story is of survivor, Kaitlin Roig. When the gunfire erupted, she locked the classroom door, ushered her children into the class bathroom and calmly told her children to be “absolutely quiet.” There in the quiet room with the sounds of gunfire echoing through the halls, she whispered to all of them and asked “those that believed in the power of prayer to start praying and those who don’t believe in prayer to think happy thoughts.”
And that is exactly what we all must do as a nation. We must continue to pray and think good thoughts. While the horrifying images can never be erased from our memories, we can ease our hearts by focusing on what is still good in this world. Even in the aftermath of evil, the sign posts of hope are all around us. We need to look to the children of Sandy Hook Elementary, link our hands together, close our eyes to the horrors of the world and walk swiftly toward our own personal safe havens. We need to tuck the parents of Sandy Hood into our hearts and remember to hug, cherish and appreciate our loved ones each and every day, especially before sending them off into the world on their own. We need to pay our respects to our police officers, medics and other brave responders by remembering to come to the aid of anyone who calls upon us in a time of need. And we need to follow our President’s example by remembering that it is always appropriate to show our human side. And it is definitely okay to pause before attempting to do anything difficult in order to give ourselves the strength to keep going on.
Once again, there are no words. Just images etched forever in our hearts. And prayers and good thoughts that something like this will never ever happen again.