Saturday, December 15, 2012

I don't need to know their names

It's Saturday, the day after what will forever be known as the Sandy Hook School murders.  Yesterday Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old man, broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and shot to death six adults and 20 small children.

We're all in shock and looking for answers.  We're crying, grieving, mourning, and we want answers.  We want gun control that actually controls guns.  We want people not to blame the guns but the shooter.  We want to know the names of the victims, and, as I write this, all news stations are on alert, awaiting a press conference where those names will finally be announced.

We decided long ago that when we know the names of the dead we make a connection; we see them as human beings and not as statistics.  When George W. Bush, in an atmosphere where so many people were against his wars, decided that it was too political to show our war dead arriving home in body bags, we were furious.

When President Obama finally opened it up, publicizing the names and showing us proof that the flag-draped coffins were back on our soil, we saw it as our chance to honor the dead in a way that actually meant something. 

I want to know the names of our military dead. There is something to be said for giving them public identities in order to recognize that they gave their lives in the service of our country.  They gave their lives for us.

But when I heard this morning that they were going to release the names of the children later today, I cried. I don't want to know their names today.  I don't need to know their names today.  I don't want their names associated with yesterday's horror.  Not now.

The emotions are still so raw it could be my own shock,  my own grief, my own thoughts as a parent and about kids in general, but if the lives of those kids can't be given back to the families, the least we can do as supporters, it seems to me, is to take a moment to remember them, not as victims of a gruesome murder but as wonderful, vivacious, funny, wacky little creatures who gave those around them, every day, a reason to love them.

I don't need to know their names in order to honor their existence and to mourn with the mourners.  I can picture them as children in every school, in ever community, in every home.  I see them in the eyes of every child who trots off to school thinking the worst that could happen to them is to fail a test or make their best friend mad at them.  I know who they are.

I don't want this first day without them to be laden with gun control arguments or off-the-wall, fact-free analyses about what happened and why, only later to to be capped with funeral dirge music as the names of the children are read off, as their sweet pictures roll on and off the screen, raw reminders that their deaths were the outcome of an unspeakable act of madness.  Not today.

Please.  Not today.


4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I'm sobbing with you, Linda. I have been all day. Even more than yesterday, for some reason. I think yesterday was so shocking I was numb. Today is different.

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  2. if not now, when? If not us, who? Never forget.

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  3. I think you missed the point of my post. I wrote it on the day after the massacre, when the wounds were so fresh it was painful. I specifically said "not today". I didn't say "never".

    No, we'll never forget them. Nor should we. Their names will be with us forever. Which is why I didn't see why we couldn't have waited at least another day before we announced them. Then we could mourn them for who they were and not for how they died.

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