The evil that overtook Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on the morning of Friday Dec. 14, 2012 can’t really be explained by logic. As a nation, we search for understanding, but there is none. There really can’t be any understanding for such evil. We can study the facts, how Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old former Sandy Hook Elementary student, killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at home before forcing his way into the elementary school and gunning down 20 children and 6 teachers before turning the gun on himself. Those facts just don’t tell us why or how anyone could do something like this. The truth is that we never will. Those answers died with the gunman.
Maybe the specifics are not what is important. Maybe we need to just call it what it really is…evil. Pure evil of this magnitude, while hard to understand, is all around us. The truth is that as long as Satan has influence on this world, there will always be evil among us. Evil is not always as extreme as this incident, but it is present in all different forms and magnitudes in each of our lives.
Whenever someone is put down because of their race or gender, evil is the cause. When we say mean things to each other, evil is the reason. When we steal a candy bar from a store, evil is the culprit. When an animal is neglected evil is the reason. When parents get divorced, evil has a hand in it. Anytime we choose anything other than love towards another person, evil is the ultimate reason we do this.
Evil is simply horrible and the only way to combat evil is love. Love that allows people to forgive when someone treats them wrong. Love that makes you go out of your way to do something kind for someone else. Love is what allows a teacher to give their life to shield a helpless elementary student from a bullet, whose source is evil. I think John Lennon really had it right when he said, “Love is all you need.”
When something as evil as this massacre occurs, it is only natural for people to question God. Why does this happen? For a further explanation, please refer to my blog, Why Sandy Why?, that I very oddly posted just hours before this tragedy occurred on Friday morning. I will not rehash what I said in that blog, but in times as difficult as these, some people will draw closer to God, while others will turn away from God. Turning away from God is not a good idea because God is the source of love in our world and love is the only thing that can conquer evil such as this. Without love, and without God, we don’t stand a chance.
As I read through the names of the victims and what their lives were in the paper on Monday, I wept. I wept because I knew that these children would never have a chance to experience the full life that I have been allowed to experience. I wept when I read of the bravery of those teachers, who gave their lives to try to protect their students. Crying is OK because it is the first step towards trying to cope with a loss like this. Crying will not undo any of the events or bring back any one of these lives that were cut short. What is important is how we react as a result of this evil. If we choose to draw toward God for strength and combat this evil with love we display in our lives, then the evil will not win in the end. If we pull away from God and choose to react with hate that we display in our lives, then we are letting evil win. Love or hate. It really is that simple. Choose love and we will memorialize these fallen souls in a manner befitting the lives they lived.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we are in a war each day of our lives here on earth. The war is between good and evil. If you are fighting on the side of good, you need to arm yourself each day with love and use that love to fight evil with each and every thing you do and every person you interact with in this life. It may seem impossible for one person to have enough love to fight off all the evil in the world. That is exactly right. We can’t win by ourselves. Fortunately, God wants to work inside of each of us. He can provide us with enough love to give that evil will not stand a chance. All we have to do is be willing to let God into our hearts. If we do this, our lives will be forever transformed.
As single people, we can’t transform the whole world. All we can focus on doing is transforming people one at a time through the love that we show them each and every day. If enough people do the same thing, the effects will be more than evil can combat. We are engaged in war and our ammo is love. Each time we demonstrate love towards another, we are shooting evil right in the side. Not to spoil the ending for you, but good does win over evil in the end.
I wanted to end this blog by giving a brief summary of what I learned about each of the victims through reading about them. This information was principally drawn from the USA Today on Mon. 12/17/12. May the candles of each of their lives burn brightly into that cold, dark night though our memories and never be forgotten!
Dawn Hochsprung (47)
Dawn was the school’s very popular principal. She had a strong love of teaching and was known for her enthusiasm and frank opinions. She had worked at the school for over 2 years and had become a beloved figure at the school. Dawn was killed while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him. She did everything she could to protect her students who came first to her and she died a true hero.
Mary Sherlach (56)
Mary was the school psychologist and had been at the school since 1994. she had spent most of her life trying to help kids from taking wrong turns in life. She worked closely with students, teachers, and parents. She died while trying to protect others from being shot. She is an ultimate example of what a hero really is.
Victoria Soto (27)
Miss Victoria Soto taught in Room 10 of the elementary school. On the school’s website she wrote: “I absolutely love teaching first grade! I look forward to an amazing year in first grade with my amazing students of room 10!” She died in the classroom she loved by sheltering her students in a closet she had gathered them into and shielded them from the gunman.
Lauren Rousseau (30)
She had spent years working as a substitute teacher and working at many different jobs. Just this fall she had reached her ultimate goal of becoming a full-time teacher when she earned a full-time spot at Sandy Hook Elementary. She had told her mother that this had been the best year of her life.
Rachel Davino (29)
Rachel was a teacher’s aide at Sand Hook. One of her passions in life was cooking. Her 76-year-old grandmother would come visit her and share recipes with her from her native Italy. Rachel would often tell her grandma that she loved her when they would see each other and they would often cook together.
Nancy Lanza (52)
Nancy was the gunman’s mother. She was known for the game nights she would host at her house and the holiday decorations she would put up at her house. She was the gunman’s first victim. She was described by neighbors as a very nice lady, good-hearted, and a person who would do anything for you.
Anne Marie Murphy (52)
Anne has been described by family as a happy soul, a good mother, wife and daughter. Artistic, fun-loving, witty and harworking. Police told the family that Anne was a hero who helped shield some of her students from the rain of bullets. When told of the news, Anne’s mother reached for her rosary. It is never the right time to lose a child no matter how old they are.
Emilie Parker (6)
Emile was a blonde, blue-eyed first-grader. She considered herself an artist and would always carry her crayons and paper around with her. Emile was the big sister to two younger sisters who always would turn toward her for comfort. Her dad talked of the last conversation he had with his daughter that morning. As she was walking out the door, she told her dad that she loved him. He would never see her alive again.
Jesse Lewis (6)
Jesse loved math and horse-back riding. Jesse was in Miss Soto’s room 10 classroom. His father described him as a very happy boy. Jesse lived on a horse farm called Wild Rose Farm with his mother. He loved all the animals on the farm and had been riding horses since he was 1 1/2 years old. His love of life was very contagious to those around him.
Ana Marquez-Greene (6)
Ana was the daughter of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene. Her dad thanked his “sweetie girl” and talked about how much her father, mother and brother would miss her here on earth and how she had beat them all to “paradise.” He father talked about he is reminded about how much we’re loved and supported on this earth by our Father in heaven.
Benjamin Wheeler (6)
Benjamin was a newcomer to Newtown and Sandy Hook. His father David Wheeler is a writer and performer with the Flagpole Shakespeare Repertory Theater. They had just recently come to town as his dad traveled for work. Even though he was new, he was well-liked by the other kids in school.
Charlotte Bacon (6)
Charlotte had begged her mother to let her wear the new pink dress and boots that was supposed to be for Christmas. Last Friday morning, her mother gave in and let her wear them to school that day. It ended up being the last outfit that the outgoing redhead would ever wear. Her smile will be remembered by those who loved her forever.
Daniel Barden (7)
Daniel was described by his parents as being a “sweet boy” who “earned his ripped jeans and missing two front teeth.” He was on the swim team and loved to play soccer. His parents said that Daniel was a “special boy” and was “such a light.”
Olivia Engel (6)
Olivia will live on in her parent’s mind through some of the pictures of her. There is a picture of her visiting Santa Claus and another of her swinging a pink baseball bat and yet another of her posing on a boat. In some of the pictures she wears a pretty white dress. In other pictures she makes a silly face. A friend of the girl’s family said that she loved attention. She had perfect manners. She was the teacher’s pet and was a line leader at school.
Josephine Gay (7)
Josephine turned 7 three days before the shooting. In a photo circulating around the Internet, she can be seen with a gap-toothed grin on her face and balancing a traffic cone on her head and glasses on the very tip of her nose. She was so full of life and happiness.
Dylan Hockley (6)
Dylan’s mother Nicole had pondered about the meaning of home while living in the United Kingdom in March of 2009. She decided that it did not matter where she lived, as long as her husband and sons were around her. There is no doubt that this loss will be devastating to Dylan’s mom.
Madeleine Hsu (6)
Matthew Velsmid, who is a physician, was at Madeleine’s house, tending to her stricken family. Her family did not wish to make any comments at this time. She had a bold way in which she attacked each and every day given to her. She was given a lot less days than most of us are, but she made the most of each one she was given. She will definitely be missed.
Catherine Violet Hubbard (6)
Catherine was a redhead with a wide smile and freckles. Her father said they were greatly saddened by the loss of their daughter and that their thoughts and prayers are with the families of the other victims. There is never a right time to say goodbye to a child. I’m sure her parents were certainly not ready to let this little angel go this soon. It seems so wrong.
Chase Kowalski (7)
Chase was a boy who was always outside, playing in the backyard or riding his bicycle. Just last week Chase was visiting with a neighbor and telling them his desire to compete in and win a mini-triathlon. His neighbor Kevin Grimes said, “You couldn’t think of a better child.”
James Mattioli (6)
Ray Horvath, sho runs a before-and-after school program at the school said, “James was a sweetheart of a kid with such and innocent face.” The innocence of a child is something that can’t be faked. James was as innocent as a child can come. He didn’t even have a chance to do anything mojorly wrong like so many of us have in our lives.
Grace Audrey McDonnell (7)
Grace loved art projects, soccer and gymnastics. She adored her King Charles Spaniel, Puddin’, her grandmother said. She was a girl with pretty blonde hair and ice blue eyes. She was a “girly girl” who loved playing dress-up with her grandmother’s jewelry and wearing pink.
Jack Armistead Pinto (6)
Jack was a big sports fan. Jack participated in all kinds of sports including flag football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, and snow skiing. He was a huge fan of New York Giant’s player Victor Cruz and will be buried in his Victor Cruz jersey. Victor Cruz dedicated Sunday’s game to Jack. In his obituary it read, “In life as in death, Jack will forever be remembered for the immeasurable joy he brought to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years.”
Noah Pozner (6)
Noah’s uncle said that Noah was “smart as a whip.” Noah was gentle, but with a rambunctious streak. Then his mother, a nurse, would tell him she loved him, Noah would answer, “Not as much as I love you, Mom.” She will no doubt miss hearing those words from her beloved son. Noah was full of the life that any young boy is.
Caroline Previdi (6)
Caroline loved to draw and dance. In the first-grader’s obituary it said, “that her smile brought happiness to everyone she touched.” A smile can break through the heart of indifference. It seems that even at her very young age, she already knew this.
Jessica Rekos (6)
Jessica was a horse-lover. She had asked Santa for cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat. Her family said that she “loved everything about horses. She devoted her free time to watching horse movies, reading horse books, drawing horses and writing stories about horses.”
Avielle Richman (6)
Avielle was a dark-haired, beautiful girl who loved to read. Her favorite books were the Harry Potter books. Her favorite color was red. There is a blog about her that features a photo of the little girl, barefoot and dressed in a red, white and black dress.
Allison Wyatt (6)
Allison was a kind-hearted little girl who loved to do random acts of kindness towrads people. Her family said that she once even offered her snacks to a stranger on a plane. Allison loved her family and her teachers. She would form special bonds with almost anyone she would meet. Her parents recalled that sometimes she would make her parents laugh so hard that they would cry. Allison wanted to be an artist. She would tape her drawings up around the house like it was her own little personal art studio.