By Arthur H. Gunther III
The flowering of life for 20 precious youngsters in Newtown, Conn., stopped blooming with their dreadful passing Friday, but already we feel their effect as angels for all of us:
- A father whose 6-year-old daughter is never to be seen or heard again takes time from grieving to express sympathy for the gunman’s family.
- A president tears in eloquence beyond his worded statement.
- The media reports small acts of kindness worldwide. (They were always there, but not always highlighted.)
- Queens, prime ministers, an entire world react with sympathy, political persuasion aside.
- Even as the shooting was taking place and some youngsters were already gone, one 6 year old told his teacher: “It’s all right. I know karate,” offering proof of children’s resilience and perspective.
- Kaitlin Roig, a first-grade Newtown teacher, tells the media how she rushed 15 small, terrified kids into a tiny bathroom, making them all fit and pulling a bookcase in front of the door. She kept the kids calm and told them over and over “I love you,” acting as surrogate parent and remembering later that she said those words because if they were to die, she did not want gunfire to be the last worldly statement.
- We are reminded once again, through Kaitlin Roig, through others at Newtown and in so many places, of the daily dedication and caring of our teachers, some of whom were heroes Friday.
- Community spirit, coming at Christmas and Hanukkah, too, brings Newtown together, and that expands quickly to others in Connecticut, to all the states, to all nations. The earth is now Newtown.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, renewed debate has already begun on gun control, school security is being readdressed, parents are hugging their children more and great eloquence will be offered in the many eulogies, including those for the heroic staff who died along with the school children. But the most enduring of this forever time after is and will be the healing by angels who just Friday were little boys and girls with worldly future. The angels will not let us forget.
The writer is a retired newspaperman.