The Slaughter of the Innocents
Even by unfathomable standards, the murder of all those little children in Newtown is unfathomable. It almost makes Columbine and Virginia Tech seem as if they make some sort of sense.
But six year olds? Seven year olds?
There is nothing I can add to all of the commentary out there that can lighten the grief of all those families who have been smashed to smithereens. Losing a child to illness, to accident: beyond terrible. But this? Unfathomable is the only word that comes to my mind, but even this word does the slaughter of these innocents scant justice.
There were also six grownups murdered last Friday at Sandy Hook School: the women who worked with the kids and who, by all accounts, acted admirably to try to protect the little ones in their care.
Rachel Davino, Lauren Rousseau, and Victoria Soto were young women, relatively early on in their teaching careers. Principal Dawn Hochsprung, special ed teacher Anne Marie Murphy, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were well established in theirs.
All of the stories of that terrible day have yet to be told, but the ones coming out tell us that these women were heroes among us – ‘lunging’ at the murderer, putting themselves between him and ‘their kids.’
I hope that we do have these stories emerge. Kids need to know that there are grownups who will try to protect them, to spare them from terror, to save them from horror. We need to know this, too.
The ‘fast fact’ that appeared on one of the shows about the Newtown massacre said that there have been 181 school shooting incidents since Columbine in 1990. Still, you don’t think of school as a dangerous place, or teaching as a dangerous profession.
Yet even in this nice, well to do area, they had safeguards in place. Visitors have to be buzzed in. (One news report said that the murderer may have smashed the glass door in to gain entry.) Teachers and kids have had emergency evacuation rehearsals, which the kids probably paid as much attention to as we did to the fire and stick-your-head-under-the-desk atom bomb drills of my school days.
Emergency drills aside, surely none of these women went to school on Friday thinking it would be anything other than a typical Friday. Maybe a bit more charge in the air, the kids a bit antsier, given that it’s only a week until Christmas vacation, and a school full of 5-10 year olds means a lot of Santa believers.
But probably pretty much routine-routine.
I’m sure the teachers had their plan for what they were going to accomplish, maybe a small special surprise to break things up a bit.
It was a nice day. The kids would have been able to go out at recess and lunch and blow off some steam.
Like everyone does at work on Friday, I’m sure they were all thinking about what they were going to be doing over the weekend. Anyone who celebrates Christmas – which, based on their names, would be most/all of the teachers – likely had a long list of shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating to-dos.
How terribly, how unpredictably, how unfathomably that truncated school day ended for them.
And what of the teachers and other staff members who survived? Who weren’t in the sights and sites of the murderer? They must be in complete and utter shock.
Colleagues killed, workplace upended, traumatized students to deal with. And the unfathomable slaughter of all those innocents…
How do they go on?
Terrible, terrible day for the teachers of Sandy Hook. Unfathomably so.