Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine,
Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Ana,
Jesse, James, Dylan, Grace, Jack,
Emilie, Caroline, Noah, Avielle,
Jessica, and Benjamin, and Allison.
Have you met Lauren, Rachel, Cassie,
Steve, Corrie, Kelly, Matt, Daniel,
Dan, Rachel, Isaiah, John and Kyle?
Although you lived in different parts of the country,
And were at different points in your very young lives,
You actually have a lot in common.
Thirteen years apart, your lives ended similarly,
On a lovely day, in a peaceful suburb, in a school —
A place that you trusted to be
And totally predictable.
Instead, your lives ended in gunfire,
Multi-shot rifles held by young madmen,
Who destroyed the peace of a school day with an unrelenting hail of high power bullets.
Certainly you are not the only victims, but you are parantheses at opposite ends of the nightmare:
Columbine: the school whose body count every gun man tries to top,
Sandy Hook: the newest entry, perhaps the one that will make a difference,
Because the victims were so young.
Because they could be our children or grandchildren.
Because it was the middle of Chanuka and a few days before Christmas,
And now the parents of these children will have to find a way to give away,
Or hide away,
Or dispose of the presents so lovingly chosen and wrapped,
Now never to be received.
Children! Gather together and whisper your names.
Whisper them repeatedly so that they echo down to Earth,
And we don’t forget you as we’ve forgotten so many other victims.
Remind us that children die on street corners in
Detroit, Newark, New York, Chicago, Baltimore and Philadelphia,
Almost every minute.
Remind us that the time to enact gun legislation is now,
Before we forget your innocent faces.
Before we forget your lost lives and your lost potential.
Remind us that mental health care in this “civilized” country
Stigmatizes the sufferer and the family and provides no safety nets
To save the sufferers before they cause havoc.
You will be led by guardian angels,
The teachers who died trying to save you:
Dave in Colorado,
Rachel, Dawn, Anne Marie, Lauren, Mary and Victoria from Connecticut.
When we denigrate the profession of educator,
When we try to break unions or cut back jobs,
Let us remember that sometimes teachers demonstrate the ultimate lesson,
Giving their lives for the love of their students.
Noah, selfishly, I worry about you the most.
Judaism does not provide a clear view of heaven.
You will not be called to sit at Jesus’ hand.
Who will you hang out with?
Will you be gathered to a great grandparent’s bosom?
Will you join the children killed by guns in school attacks in Israel?
How long will you miss your twin sister, your other half left on Earth?
I wish my concept of the Life Beyond was clearer so that I would be confident
That you are well taken care of and not alone.
I will not forget you, all of you, any of you.
This I promise as I promised on April 20, 1999,
To the teenagers who loved twenty miles from my home
And could have been my daughter’s friends.
I am older now and my life is full of watersheds:
November 22, 1963,
January 28, 1986
April 19, 1995,
April 20, 1999
September 11, 2001,
July 20, 2012
December 14, 2012
The dates come closer.
The dates come faster.
Children, whisper louder.
We need to remember.
We need to act.
Don’t let us move on from this horrific abomination
Without making positive change on your behalf..