Today, Dec. 14, marks the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Twenty children and eight adults were killed on that unspeakable day in Newtown, including the 20-year-old shooter’s mother and his own suicide after carrying out mass mayhem.
The day of terror radically transformed the way schools educate children and respond to safety threats across the nation. Lockdowns, active-shooter training and school security have become a fearsome but necessary part of life for children and adults alike.
Words can’t express the extent to which Dec. 14, 2012, disrupted the lives of the families who lost their first graders. Relatives of the principal, teachers and staff who died will never stop mourning their lost loved ones.
The agony radiates in everlasting waves. Time will quiet but never extinguish the pain.
Many of the family members now devote their lives to preventing others from enduring the unending sorrow they live with and to improving the lives of others.
Since that terrible day, 186 shootings have been perpetrated on school campuses in the United States, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group.
Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley co-founded Sandy Hook Promise. Barden lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel, and Hockley lost her son Dylan, 6.
Sandy Hook Promise supports common-sense solutions to prevent gun violence and works with schools and organizations in every state to teach the warning signs potentially violent people often exhibit in person and on social media.
Barden and Hockley and others are honoring the sons’ memory by making schools safer and saving lives in the hope that in five or 10 years, teachers and kids won’t still have to be trained how to deal with an active shooter.
Sandy Hook Promise produced a video, titled Tomorrow’s School Shooting, which everyone should see even though it hurts to watch it.
Sandy Hook Promise is using the one-minute, 25-second video to promote its Know the Signs initiative to train students and adults to recognize and report warning signs associated with school shootings.
One person who grieves the loss of his loved one — and his son’s depraved murder of innocent children and adults who died at his hands — has been met with death threats and rebuke rather than sympathy.
Alissa Parker was inspired through her faith to reach out to Peter Lanza, the father of the shooter who murdered her daughter Emilie and to let him know she was was sorry for his loss, too. He was grateful to be met with “a glimmer of light through a dark agony,” he told her. Parker tells her story in the December issue of Guideposts.
The Sandy Hook parents will never get their children back, but they can use their love of their children to do everything in their power to prevent others from sharing their fate. In this way, their children’s lives have a purpose and their memory will live on in perpetuity.
See Tomorrow’s School Shooting at sandyhookpromise.org.