Exactly one year ago today, America was shook up from the news of a horrific act which took the lives of twenty-six of our fellow Americans. Twenty of these innocent beings were children aged between 6 and 7 years while the six others were educators who had dedicated themselves to make the lives of these children better for the future. A small town in Connecticut was marked with an unfathomable tragedy when a young man walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and began shooting indiscriminately which caused a blood bath not seen in the recent past. The young man was Adam Lanza who ended up taking his own life as well as that of his mother. Just a day before the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings, an eighteen-year-old student at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado, Karl Pierson entered the school with a shotgun looking for Tracy Murphy, school librarian and coach, and injured three students after opening fire. Pierson was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.
While investigations are still underway regarding yesterday’s shootings, President Obama called on his fellow countrymen to join him in a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. to honor the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The president and the first lady lit 26 votive candles which were set up on a table in the Map Room of the White House. During his weekly address he spoke to the nation about the violence at Sandy Hook and said, “…these tragedies must end and to end them we must change…we haven’t yet done enough to make our communities and our country safer. We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on guns so easily. We have to do more to heal troubled minds. We have to do everything we can to protect our children from harm and make them feel loved and valued and cared for.” The president also reminded the nation that real change will not come from Washington but rather from the American people. In Newtown, bells at the St. Rose of Lima church rang 26 times beginning at 9:30 a.m., the exact moment when Adam Lanza started his shooting spree at the school on Dec. 14, 2013. The names of the victims were announced over the loudspeaker. Governor, Dan Malloy asked that the flags remain at half-staff.
The tragedy at Newtown brought the gun debate in the forefront. But it was not only the issue of the guns but also the state of mental health in the country and the treatment of patients with mental illnesses which needed attention. There is no debate that the Americans echo the sentiments of President Obama when he said, “ "If we want to live in a country where we can go to work, send our kids to school, and walk our streets free from fear, we must keep trying. We must keep caring. We must treat every child like they’re our child. Like those in Sandy Hook, we must choose love. And together, we must change."