Jeff 2021-2

Thoughts and Prayers Go Out to Newtown

I had planned to send to the Villager the second part of my article on the basics of planning and zoning. The shocking and disturbing events this past week in Newtown, CT changed my plans.

There are times in our lives that we remember vividly. My grandmother once told me, as if it were yesterday for her, where she was and what she was doing on December 7th, 1941, when the radio announced the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. My father was able to recite all of the details of his days on November 22nd, 1963 and June 6th, 1968, when JFK and RFK were assassinated, respectively. For me, in addition to the joyous days of August 30th, 1998 (my wedding day) and July 5th, 2004 (my son’s birthday), I remember very well the tragic days of September 11th, 2011 and December 14th, 2012 (the horrible shootings in Newton, CT).

There have been many mass shootings (murders) in the U.S. over the years. Any senseless death, even if an individual act, is tragic. That multiple killings catch more of our attention is understandable given their scope. All the more seemingly poignant is any crime involving innocent children. We view our own communities here in the Quiet Corner as safe, or certainly safer than cities or other parts of our country. But, a shocking crime in our own state brings such reality too close to our homes. And, I am reminded that even here in northeastern Connecticut, crimes that take people from us have occurred.

As a parent, I cannot imagine the unbelievable horror of bringing my son to school in the morning and later in the day being told that a gunman killed him, some of his classmates and teachers. Such an event is unthinkable. When I heard of the shootings, I immediately felt an emotional connection with the parents in Newton, those whose sons and daughters were dead and those who children were alive.

One cannot understand such evil. Each of us finds our own means to make sense of these things when the answers cannot be easily found.

For some, faith in one’s religion or relationship with God is the way. Elie Wiesel, a famous Holocaust survivor, was asked if he still believed in God, to which he answered, “I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.”

For others, faith in one’s family and friends brings them comfort and solace. For all of us, faith in our communities supports us one way or another. Ben Stein commented most articulately upon the 9/11 events and heroes by saying that “faith is not believing that God can … it is knowing that God will”. To rework what he said, if I may dare, “faith is not believing that people can do things for each other, but knowing that people do and will do things – even selfless things – for each other”. People such as Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, School Psychologist Mary Sherlach and First Grade teacher Victoria Soto, who rushed to save their school kids and sacrificed themselves. People such as teachers Maryrose Kristopik and Kaitlin Roig, Librarian Mary Ann Jacob, and the school custodian, all of whom knew what to do to protect the kids, and did just that. People such as the kids themselves who helped each other. People such as the first responders.

It has been comforting to see the Newtown community come together as one and other communities join in with them as one larger community. When I see this occurring all across the country, even here at home, when tragedies of all types and sizes occur, I derive comfort from it.

It takes all of us to keep what is good shining bright. We take a lot for granted. For me, I have been giving my wife and son extra hugs and kisses and remembering to say “I love you” each morning.

In memory of the 20 first-grade students, 6 school faculty and the gunman’s mother, all who were innocently killed in Newtown, Connecticut.

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