When December arrived I was excited for the upcoming holidays, but I also noticed an uneasy tension in my chest. I knew the one year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook was approaching. I think about that day a lot, especially when I get buzzed in to drop off Nolan at daycare in the morning, and I consider that Sandy Hook Elementary’s front doors were locked too.
So it’s been a year and money has been collected, petitions have been signed, foundations have been established, and yet nothing significant has been accomplished. I don’t mean to trivialize or ignore the considerable energy and time that so many people contributed in the aftermath. But the reality is that when these victims’ families look at our country a year after their children were murdered, has anything changed?
I spent a day talking about the Gettysburg Address with my students last month and among the terms I needed to explain was, “these dead shall not have died in vain.” When President Lincoln said it 150 years ago, I doubt it sounded as cliché as it does today, but as I clarified what “in vain” means, I found myself again thinking about the kids of Sandy Hook. Or maybe more accurately, I thought about their parents and families and how we’ve failed them over politics and over money.
A few days after the shooting, Rebecca Woolf published a really powerful post on her blog and I reread it last night. She said, “We are mad and we are sad and everywhere we look we see arms and we are so sorry. We are sorry for the children and the parents and the people who cling to their weapons as families cling to families and it doesn’t make sense.”
That’s exactly how I feel today.