The assault weapon debate is starting to rage as our legislators are beginning to realize that changes to mental health funding and a look-see at these violent video games that target teen boys and young men need to be addressed.
One of my friends, Kathy Whittaker, who was a first responder on September 11, felt the need to go to Newtown, Connecticut the weekend of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School to do whatever comfort, solace, and assistance she could. Here is her story of her time there:
So by early Friday evening I'd heard and seen enough!
My heart, like everyone else’s, had been shattered by news reports from Newtown, CT … I had no options … I had to go. I had to be there … for what exactly I was not sure.
I took what little money I had and bought a bunch of guardian angel lapel pins with the December birthstone in them and headed to Newtown. I stayed, prayed, cried, listened, hugged, held people without words, sang, and just sort of moved from one place to another like everyone else.
This bucolic community was raw … devastated … many just beyond words … but the outpouring of love from as close as next door to as far away as London was something that was magical.
There were 26 wooden angels on a hillside.. how and when did they get there? There were 26 donated Christmas trees people were decorating … how'd they get there?
There was ONE lone survivor. ..a 6-year-old girl that had the presence of mind to play dead. She, covered in blood, was reunited with her mother saying, “I'm OK mommy but all my friends are dead” … that is just unimaginable! When I found out from one Pastor that the President would be visiting Sunday afternoon and funerals would start Monday morning … I knew it was time for me to leave. I left the guardian angel lapel pins with Pastor to give to the families of each angel now gone and one to that brave 6 yr old who played dead. So, I'm home, emotionally drained, spiritually renewed, extremely humbled and grateful as all get out. I'll never, as long as I live, forget the 50 hours I spent in Newtown, CT … and I'll remember each person, here and gone, every single day in prayer and deed!! May God watch over them all and guide them through in His light!! ♥ ♥ ♥
As we go forward and enjoy this festive season, please remember there are families that will not be celebrating but grieving. It is important to lobby our representatives and senators to make mental health issues and assault weapon bans part of their discussion. So please call, write, and email and let your opinions be known. As a nation, we have to stand together and united and see that this does not happen again.
If you would like to mail sympathy cards or letters of support and solidarity to the school, the school address is:
Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.