Letter: Connecticut school shootings still a painful memory

From: John Vanderbur


There are those times in life when a perfectly pleasant day turns into something so perplexing that it stings the very core of one’s humanity. And so it was on Dec. 14, 2012. I had been substitute teaching at one of the county schools. It had been a fine day, the kids had been good, and we had accomplished some things. When I got into my vehicle to leave school, I felt a sense of peace, reminiscence and holiday spirit. After all, it was only 10 days until Christmas.

As I was going home, I went past the old farmhouse where I lived during my boyhood. The Christmas memories came flooding back. My brother and I would trek across the countryside to find that just-right cedar tree, chop it down and drag it back home for my mother to decorate for Christmas. As Christmas approached, I would look at the neatly wrapped presents under the Christmas tree and wonder what was in them. Then finally when Christmas Day arrived and all of the family was there, the food was plenty, and the conversations were many, and the gifts were given out. As I left the old farmhouse I thought how wonderful those days were and how blessed I had been. Again I felt a sense of serenity and knowing that it was only 10 days till Christmas.

When I got home, I turned on the television. As I sat there, the words and sights fell upon me, and I was stunned. A terrible evil had descended upon Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, Connecticut). Twenty first-grade students and six educators had been shot to death. As I continued to watch, the emotion of the moment gripped me. I thought of my children and grandchildren. I thought of the grieving parents whose pain and sorrow had to be immeasurable.

President Barack Obama, with tears in his eyes, made a statement saying in part, “Our hearts are broken today.” Many hearts were broken on that day. For the families of those who died there will never be serenity and peace, just the knowledge of what they once had and what will never be. We as Americans must never forget those precious, innocent children and the educators who tried to shield them. We must always see those children waving and saying goodbye to their parents on their last day of school, their last day of life. It was just 10 days until Christmas.