ENID, Okla. —
Many sounds must have filled Sandy Hook Elementary School that cold December morning.
There were undoubtedly the voices of children, excited about the end of another week and the fact Christmas was just 11 days away.
There had to have been the voices of teachers, gentle but firm, struggling to turn that childish glee into positive energy for the final school day of the week.
We speculate about those sounds. But we know there were other sounds, loud, violent, completely foreign to this setting.
These were followed by the sounds of confusion, of running feet, of pain, of fear.
Then there was silence, a terrible silence, broken only by the keening wail of approaching sirens.
Twenty six voices were silenced that terrible December day in Newtown, Conn., one year ago Saturday. Twenty of them were children, ages 6 and 7, while six were adults.
In the year since, many voices have been raised. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy came renewed cries for tightened gun control, but the right to own guns is guaranteed by our Constitution, and trying to keep guns out of the hands of those who would do us harm threatens the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Many called for making schools safer. Schools are supposed to be places of learning, of safety, of refuge from the dangers of the world outside. But this proved not to be the case in Newtown that day.
Then came the cry for increased scrutiny of those who own guns, specifically targeting those with mental health issues. But having a mental illness is not like having a broken limb — there may be outward signs, but often they are not obvious.
The young man who silenced those voices certainly offered signs of his instability. Adam Lanza hadn’t left his house in three months, and only communicated with his mother, with whom he lived, via email.
He was obsessed with mass murder and violent video games.
He once wrote a book including tales of the murder of children, and a son shooting his mother in the head.
Lanza’s first victim that terrible day was his mother, whom he shot in the head as she lay in her bed. Had she gotten him some help, they both might still be alive, along with the victims of Sandy Hook. But she remained silent.
The families of those killed last Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn., have not remained silent these past months.
On Monday they announced the formation of a website, MySandy HookFamily.org, that will serve as a place of sharing with the families who lost children that day.
Many Newtown families have raised their voices in memory of their lost loved ones, forming advocacy groups for gun control or school safety, and raising funds for research into the roots of violence, or to aid those less fortunate.
Robbie and Alissa Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter Emilie died in the Newtown tragedy, have created a foundation to raise money to promote art programs in schools and to provide medical care for children in Guatemala.
They have taken their grief, the pain of which is ever-present and nearly as fresh as the day of the shooting, and channeled it into something positive.
Many Newtown families plan to be out of town on the anniversary of that terrible day, and they have asked the media and everyone else to stay away as well.
There will be no ceremonies, no memorials. Instead they are asking residents to put a candle in their windows to show their commitment to a year of service to others in honor of those killed that day.
In this way, they are raising their voices because those killed on that tragic December morning can’t.
Earlier this week, Alissa Parker filled the silence in her own way, posting a missive on YouTube. In the video, she offers memories of her daughter, and says, “Evil didn’t win that day.”
Evil can never win as long as there are good people left to fill the silence.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.