I have been reluctant to write about what happened in Newtown. I still type this very slowly. Hesitantly. Purposefully.
Much has been written and spoken about the horror of that day. Much has been written about the young lives lost. Much has been written about the teachers and school staff who did what they could and needed to do to save their charges and themselves from the onslaught of military style weapons.
There has been much talk of heroes and villains and victims. The 20 children are clearly victims. The 7 adults are victims as well.
When we call each of the six educators a hero it is because we hope we would do the brave thing under the circumstances they faced. Their positions in the school dictated how their particular acts of valor occurred. Teachers, alone in their rooms with their children, did what they were prepared to do to protect everyone in their room. Lock the doors. Get away from glass or windows. Hide behind or in whatever you can. Then only fate determined who was lucky or not.
Most had the opportunity to escape the danger with their classes and to do what they were prepared and previously instructed to do. Get to the firehouse a quarter of a mile away. They did their job. They protected their children. It has unfortunately become part of a teachers job to become a civilian first responder. They acted valiantly in the face of fire. A heroic job description these days….
To me the true heroes who went beyond the call of duty were the principal, Mary Sherlach, and school psychologist, Eliza Hallabeck because they did not follow instructions. They went beyond the call of duty because they ran to the source of the gunshots rather than protect themselves as usually instructed in a lockdown.
Police always tell school personnel NOT to be heroes. They tell us to call 911 and take cover and do as the protocols dictate. Those two women were the true heroes of the day as well as victims because they went against the rules to protect their kids.
All 27 killed that day were victims. Adam Lanza’s mother was a victim. Everyone in Sandy Hook elementary was a victim. Indeed, the families of the victims and everyone in the town was a victim of this horrific deed.
Who else are the victims? Tangentially, we are all victims of a system that allows these deeds to go unpunished by Adam Lanza’s co-conspirators…the other villains.
Who allows mental heath to be so low on our national priority totem pole? Who allows the protection of “Weapons of Mass destruction” that are military style weapons to be so high? Government? Yes. Corporations? Yes. Citizens? Yes.
Very few of us are real heroes, as much as we would like to believe differently. However, in this case we are all victims and villains.
And Adam Lanza…he is a victim as well.