Showing Us How To Cheer

To the Editor:

The following poem was submitted as a Letter to The Editor by its author, Michael Ratcliffe.

His sister-in-law, Kim Baker, is an assistant coach for the D15 cheerleading team, one of two Newtown American Youth Football & Cheer teams that recently competed in the AYC National Cheer Championships in Kissimee, Fla. Mr Ratcliffe’s niece, Grace Baker, is a member of the team.

Our family is so proud of Grace’s and her teammates’ achievements. I’ve thought about submitting this to various journals, but it just seemed more appropriate (at least in my mind) to send it to a paper serving the Newtown area.


Newtown’s Cheerleaders At The National Championships

One year after tragedy—

one year of rhetoric and posturing

by pundits and politicians

and ideologues,

all proclaiming to speak for us...


One year after tragedy,

our attention foisted again

upon the grieving families,

wondering how they are coping,

repeating heartfelt sorrows—

our words reeking with empathy.


One year after tragedy,

Newtown’s girls took the floor,

paused and set themselves.

Then, with symmetry and precision,

clapped and called in unison,

cartwheeled and jumped,

did handsprings and flips,

lifted themselves on high,


and showed us how to cheer.



Michael Ratcliffe

Kings Grant Road, Laurel, Md.                     December 21, 2013


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