“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~Ernest Hemingway
December 14 marks five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. This fall, The Newtown Bee invited the families of those killed that day to share remembrances with readers; what has helped and hindered them as they have moved through these years.
Some families chose not to participate in the series, while several families did open up to our readers; we respect all decisions.
What we have learned is that not all good intentions came across as they were meant. The pain of loss is ever-present. There is disappointment in reactions; not all support grassroots movements that have risen, using their loved ones names to move agendas forward. That those most affected by 12/14 hold different views on issues that others now bear as a banner must be recognized.
But there is also hope, and a determination to honor those lives that were abbreviated by tragedy. There is appreciation for the people and places that have embraced them, supported them, and made attempts to find the right words, at the right times.
For some of the families of 12/14 and for many residents of Newtown, honoring those lives means promoting what was dear to those who died; educating society to mental health issues, recognizing those at risk, and providing support; for others, it means pursuing legislation surrounding gun laws.
It is the issue of gun violence that has resonated with many. It is a call to action for an important issue affecting lives here and across the nation; but it is just one of many initiatives that has grown out of 12/14, hoping to make a good society better.
Those most affected by our town’s tragedy are supporting programs that make art, music, and sports available to youth and teens; have established educational scholarships and collect books for schools in need; support strengthening access to mental health care and educating about and addressing brain health issues; teach people to recognize signs of self-harm or harm toward others; raise awareness about autism and programs to assist those challenged by learning issues; work to assess and improve school security; create family- and child-focused programming for emotional and physical healing; support professional development through music and the arts; educate adults and youth on social and emotional learning; develop mentor relationships between teens and younger children, between adults and youth — the list is endless, and it is all for the good of rebuilding and strengthening this community and communities across the nation. Every effort proves that we do choose love; that love wins.
Some are strong at the broken places. Our support makes them stronger.
There are many ways to champion the efforts to improve our world while honoring the memories of those who died 12/14. By honoring their lives, many public health issues can be addressed.
We take the lead from those families of 12/14: we are bound together by love, patience, and perseverance.