Praying for Newtown

Right now I’m at a time in my life that can be characterized as a “transition period.” I’ve been on a mad apartment search recently, along with trying to take the next step in my journalism career. For about a month I’ve kind of been “platooning,” if you will (or as I like to think of it, choosing the lesser of two evils); going back-and-forth between my dad’s place in Elmsford, N.Y. – and my mom’s house in Newtown, Conn.

Last night, this morning – and as I’m writing this, in fact – I’m in Newtown.

I woke up at about 9:00 this morning, which surprised me. I was up until the wee hours of the morning; updating the Yankee Yapping Facebook page for the first time in awhile, not needing to be up early. I fell back asleep and woke up around 11 to find out what happened at Sandy Hook.

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20 schoolchildren dead at the hands of a gunman, 26 total fatalities.

When the shooting at Columbine in Colorado happened, I was in sixth grade. I was a sophomore in college when a young man at Virginia Tech went on a spree in the spring of 2007, taking the lives of 32 people, including his fellow students. And now, this tragedy – the tragedy of Newtown.

There are a few details about this case that are leaving me in utter disbelief. For one, the location. When the massacre took place at Columbine, I was a lot younger and didn’t think much of it. The shooting transpired somewhere near the Rocky Mountains, thousands of miles from me and my school.

Same story in terms of Virginia Tech. I went to college in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. – the distance between my school and where the shooting occurred not being as far as Colorado, but then again not exactly right down the street, either.

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With no exaggeration, the shooting in Newtown unfolded literally minutes away from where I was sleeping; three miles to be exact. It’s terrifying to think this happened at all, let alone so close to home.

What’s also baffling to me is the age of the killer. According to the police officers currently issuing comments, the gunman, being identified at press time as Adam Lanza, was 20. Why would he target an elementary school?

I would think if Lanza, being only a 20-year-old man, were to go on any type of spree he’d almost duplicate the VT shooting; perhaps go after kids his own age. Instead of doing that, like an even bigger coward, he killed defenseless kindergartners.

Unreal.

I am not a psychologist, nor will I ever be one, so there would be no use for me to sit here and attempt to understand or deduce why this young man did what he did this morning. However, I can confidently say this: the man who committed this despicable crime obviously had serious problems – but even so, there’s no excuse for his disgusting actions.

There is never any excuse when children are involved.

The journalist in me also has to call into question the ethics of the media: my fellow press members who covered this tragedy. There was absolutely no reason to get sound bites from the kids in the school – the surviving students who witnessed what happened. If anything, interview the teachers and first responders on the matter.

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According to the local news, the children were led out of the school by teachers and police officers, and were told to close their eyes until they got outside, only to avoid the gruesome and nightmarish sight of blood and dead classmates.

After having to endure that, stick to the adults, guys. The kids had been through enough.

Right now I’d like to extend my thoughts and prayers with everyone here in Newtown. As an honorary, or at least part-time resident of this town, my heartfelt condolences go out to the parents and families affected, as well as those 20 innocent children who lost their lives. I know that God has a special place in Heaven for each and every one of them.

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As long as I’m sending out thoughts and prayers, I’d also like to take this time to remember Gloria Santiago, who was a dear and best friend of my older sister’s. Gloria passed away last week; she was a HUGE, TRUE BLUE Yankee fan – as a matter of fact, she was buried in a Yankee casket. But more importantly, she was a wonderful girl with a beautiful personality.

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I last saw Gloria at my nephew’s christening back in August. She developed a sickness not long after that and before we knew it, she was gone. Especially on a day like today, it’s important to keep in mind how precarious life can be sometimes; how short it really is.

My prayers are with the Santiago family as well as Gloria’s friends. She touched a lot people’s hearts in her life. She will certainly be missed and not forgotten.

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Jeesh. Just a bad time we’re living in, I’m afraid.

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