Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Joe Shea
AR Correspondent
Bradenton, Fla.
December 14, 2012
First Person

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BRADENTON, Fla., Dec. 14, 2012 -- The phrase that comes to mind is, "We cannot contain our grief."

The deaths today of 20 "beautiful little kids," as our weeping President called them, and six brave adults who tried to save them at an innocent little elementary school in picturesque Newtown, Conn., and the lost hope and genius of the once-impish 20-year-old who murdered them all, tears at hearts like a wild animal.

How can we stand with our grief?

Beside your tiny bones I lay my own,

The denizens today of lands unknown.

It was not a day made for sorrow. Just 11 days from Christmas, blood splashed on the new-made gingerbread houses and Christmas-tree cutouts in a classroom devoted to the celebration of learning and life. In an inconceivable moment a gunman in black enters and begins to kill the innocents; only two survive long enough to get to the hospital, where they died. There was one survivor, whom police did not not identify.

To hear the horrible news brought tears on a Friday afternoon; to watch the President cry brought tears. To hear the parents of survivors brought more tears; to hear that a nearby firehouse where children were returned to their anguished parents was where many of those waiting were finally told, "There will be no more reunions with the children today," or words to that effect, brought more.

How do we stand with our grief?

I heard a strong Republican woman who wanted to gut the politicians and NRA bosses who continue to make it possible for teenagers and young adults to open fire with powerful weapons on adults, fellow students, children and parents.

Is the message, "Don't ban guns - ban people!"? Or is it, as it might have been in a world that has passed us by, "Let us stop the terror and the death toll here!"

I was at a wedding recently in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., of my niece and her new husband. He brought his extended Italian family, and we brought our extended Irish family, so there were lots of little kids. I remember one 4-year-old little girl with brown hair and brown eyes and a pair of cheekbones that would drive Botticelli crazy; she was incredibly beautiful. She had taken the hand of a little blond-haired girl a year or two younger, and led her in and out of the many tables and among the happy dancers all afternoon.

Then there was my own nephew, Jack, whose Aunt Tara had taught him to do Irish step dances that she is a champion of; how much energy he had! How much joy! And how wonderful I felt when he came up to me, seized my by the leg and hugged me for all he's worth. My beloved niece Chloe, a slender, gentle girl with the grace of a ballerina, came and kissed me on the cheek, an angel from God.

Being childless, these memories are what inform me of what was lost today: dozens of Jacks, dozens of Chloes, dozens of that parfect little girl.

How can we stand with our grief?

The President said that soon there must be a reckoning done with respect to the guns that fall into the hands of mass murderers. I'm sure the National Rifle Association at this very moment - 11 p.m. on a Friday night - is busy planning its ad campaign to save their livelihood and make countless more mad acts of violence like this possible. It's safe to say that none of their children were among the dead.

We live now, as I said before I heard the news to a lovely woman from Muskegon I met at McDonald's on myu way home, that the country I live in today does not resemble the one in which I grew up.

Our 50-acre farm in upstate New York was an idyllic place in my childhood, and now our home for 102 years. Once it watched George Washington's Continental Army march up the Orange County Turnpike to New Windsor, where they camped for the summers of their long campaign for Independence. I think of myself as utterly American, but today I hardly know this place. Like Mrs. Regan's sixth-grade classroom on 1959, we, too, were a bunch of beautiful little kids.

How can we stand with our grief?

Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter.

Copyright 2016 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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