The nation after Sandy Hook: Sadly unshaken

Sure, the anniversary is jarring, but beyond that, America is going great guns.

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White roses with the faces of victims were attached to a telephone pole last January on the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Photo: Jessica Hill • Associated Press,

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Maybe you thought of your own children first. Or the kids you see waiting for the school bus every morning, or singing in the church choir.

Maybe, in the days after Sandy Hook, you drove past the grade school down the block and slowed down. Could it happen here? Why not? You remember Cold Spring and Red Lake in Minnesota. Those were high schools, like Columbine, but what difference does that make? Sandy Hook was an elementary school. It can happen anywhere, at any time.

You see those faces frozen in time on your TV screen now. They are angels, every one of them. You would like to look away, turn the channel and move on. Our Congress did, and most of our state legislatures. One year later, little has changed.

Wayne LaPierre is on the screen now. You can hear the anger in his voice. If he feels any pain, any regret, he hides it. The perfect man for the job. Raise more money and spread more lies. Intimidate. Bully. Threaten. Win at all costs, from coast to coast. Not undefeated, but close.

Again, you could change the channel, but now the parents of the children are on the screen. Some have aged more than 12 months in one year. You see them with the president and on Capitol Hill just days after that morning in Connecticut. Flying on Air Force One. Embraced by teary-eyed lawmakers. They asked for little because they understood the politics. Yet they were ignored.

They still want to know how it could have happened. A couple raises money for research on mass killers. Like the one who took their children, their teachers and his own mother. Two moms create websites and hold seminars on making schools safer. Some still hope laws will change, that their children will not be forgotten. They will likely be disappointed — again.

And then there’s the murderer. We should ignore him and his story, right? Make him as abstract as possible because it’s too hard to answer the why question without that research. There are more like him, but how could we possibly know how to find or stop them? So we move on, trying not to say his name.

The anniversary show is over now. Will there be another one next year, or the year after that? Why wallow, right? We are Americans. We press on. We buck up and never look back. Like LaPierre.

Those 26 faces will stay frozen, though. The children and their teachers, lost forever except in photos and home video. At least — if you believe it will help — say another prayer for them and their families. If we offer nothing else, at least say a prayer.

 

Follow Scott Gillespie on Twitter: @stribgillespie.

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