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Friday, December 14, 2012

Innocence Lost at Sandy Hook

The little children of Sandy Hook are angels, as you can see from the picture above. It was taken in May of 2011 at the Great Pootatuck Duck Race, just as thousands of yellow plastic rubber duckies were dumped into the Pootatuck River and began their journey along the waterway.

It is exactly the kind of event that is usually the hallmark of the idyllic village in the town of Newtown, Connecticut that has been home over the years to celebrities like athlete Bruce Jenner, actor Anthony Edwards, and "Hunger Games" author Suzanne Collins.

The thought that any of the cherubic faces above may have been attending kindergarten today inside of Sandy Hook Elementary School is heartbreaking. Today, the light inside twenty of these innocents was snuffed out when unthinkable horror and evil visited the school.

The son of a teacher at the school entered her classroom today and massacred the children she taught. 18 children in all died in their little classroom.

Two others survived initially, were rushed to a nearby hospital, but succumbed to their injuries there.

20 innocent little children who had nothing to do with the shooter, who posed him no threat, who had no knowledge of his existence before today were dead at his demented hands.

These were perhaps the most horrific, but not the only victims. In all at least six teachers, the 20 children, and the gunman himself were killed at the school. At least two or three other bodies have turned up at remote locations, including the parents of the shooter at two separate locations, and another brother may be a victim or in some way involved. Authorities are still trying to sort through the madness now hours later.

For now, this is the 2nd deadliest shooting massacre in American history, behind only the 32 dead at Virginia Tech back in April of 2007. Combined with the shootings inside a movie theatre complex in Aurora, Colorado just last month in which 12 were killed, and 2 more murdered in a madman's rampage at a Portland, Oregon area mall earlier this week, it has been a particularly tragic holiday season.

The gun violence that plagues many large American cities has been growing and become almost an expected fact of life in towns like my own Philadelphia, where hundreds are killed every single year, and where the murder rate is up 23% over last year. Directly across the river from Philly, in crime-ravaged Camden, New Jersey, the murder rate is four times higher than even here.

But as much as we don't like it, as much as it's a tragedy, the fact remains that it is expected here. Not so in places like Sandy Hook. There it's rubber ducky races in the spring, cookouts and baseball in the summer, cheerleading and football in the fall, and right now it is Christmas time for the town.

This peace and joy of the season for the town of Sandy Hook and all their neighbors in the Newtown community, including 20 little children and their families, has been destroyed. There will be no Christmas this year. There will be no more innocence. And there will be no answers to the question of "Why?"

Perhaps just as importantly, there is no answer to the question of "Where will it happen next?" or "How do we stop this from ever happening again?" The fact of the matter is that evil has existed since the time of Satan's rebellion, and it will continue to exist as long as mankind is in charge of the earth. We are left to pray for as much peace as possible, and to mourn.

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