The human spirit is remarkably resilient. We can endure and overcome and bear witness to events that should cripple us emotionally. Yet we bounce back. We do so because we can compartmentalize experiences and can look at something, even something incredibly horrible, and place it as someone else’s fate and someone else’s life. We compartmentalize pain and keep living with only brief memories of what someone else endured. We get busy with life and we either redirect our minds or just forget tragedies we have seen.
One year ago a 20 year old young man walked into the Sandy Hook elementary school and forever changed the lives of many families, communities, and for a moment, the nation. Yet time is passing by and the compartmentalizing has begun. But we can’t compartmentalize this one. We can’t forget or redirect this one.
It is in this pain that we need to exam ourselves and see what we are doing to make sure that our little ones know they are loved, know they are needed, and know that we are there. It is in this pain that this nation must forge a common agreement that our children are our priority. We can’t forget this one. We can’t compartmentalize this one. These names and faces need to live in us so that we never forget how precious innocence was ripped from us and that in their names, we will change.
This is the hardest thing I have ever written. I keep stopping and wiping my eyes but I need to remember these little ones and I need to be different today because of them. In their name I will be better today.
- For the sake of Charlotte Bacon who died in Sandy Hook at the age of 6, today I will hold my little 9 year old daughter Abbie and make sure she knows that tonight she is safe and loved.
- For Daniel Barden who died at the age of 7, I will tell my 13 year old son Hunter I love him and that every day with him is a treasure.
- For Olivia Engel who died at the age of 6, I will slow life down for a few minutes this evening and reminisce with my beautiful 16 year old daughter Megan and remind her that she will always be my little girl.
- For Josephine Gay who died at the age of 7, I will call my parents and thank them for loving me.
- For Ana Marquez-Greene who died at the age of 6, I will talk to my wife and ask her how I can be a better father.
- For Dylan Hockley who died at the age of 6, I will talk to my children and ask them to tell me about their day.
- For Madeline Hsu who died at the age of 6, I will tell my children about today and why every day must be treasured.
- For Chase Kowalski who died at the age of 6, I will play catch with my kids tonight.
- For James Mattiol who died at the age of 6, I will talk to each of my kids and try to impress upon them the need to be kind to their classmates.
- For Grace McDonnel who died at the age of 7, I will play dolls with my little Abbie and act silly – even if only for a little while.
- For Emilie Parker who died at the age of 6, I will turn off the television.
- For Jack Pinto who died at the age of 6, I will stop everything I am doing at 9:30 and remember the fear he felt when those first shots rang out.
- For Noah Pozner who died at the age of 6, I will try to understand the confusion and fear he must have known in those last moments.
- For Caroline Previdi who died at the age of 6, I will spend time this afternoon thanking God that my children are here today.
- For Jessica Rekos who died at the age of 6, I will spend time this afternoon praying for the comfort of her family and the other children’s families.
- For Avielle Richman who died at the age of 6, I will ask my kids if I can help them with their homework tonight.
- For Benjamin Wheeler who died at the age of 6, I will make sure my family sits at the dinner table together tonight and laughs and talks and remembers.
- For Allison Wyatt who died at the age of 6, I will tuck each of my kids into bed, tell them I love them, hug them and hold them tightly, and reassure them that their Daddy will always be there.
- Then for Rachel Davino who died at the age of 29, Lauren Rousseau who died at the age of 30, Mary Sherlach who died at the age of 56, and Victoria Soto who died at the age of 27, I will hold my wife closely tonight and try not to cry as I tell her why she and our children are my world.
- Then for Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, who died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him, I will pledge that I will be a better person today.
- Finally for Anne Marie Murphy, the 52 year old teacher who shielded some of her students from the bullets and in doing so, lost her own life, I will try to forgive but I will vow to never forget.
Because we cannot forget the 20 children and 6 adults who lost their lives at Sandy Hook, let’s not just remember them. For them, let’s be better. For them, let’s pledge to change. For them, let’s get our priorities in order. For them, we can never forget…