26 Questions

One of the most complex and impossible questions to answer is just one word: Why. Why is the sky blue? Why is grass green? Why do we have to wait until Christmas for Santa to come? Why do bad things happen?

These are the kind of questions that the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting probably asked. Twenty kids who went to school on Friday excited about another day, another step closer to Christmas. Twenty kids who didn’t make it home.

These are the kind of questions that teachers, parents, and school officials tried to answer every day, including six heroic teachers and staff members who were also victims of last week’s tragic and brutal shooting.

These are the kind of questions that parents and teachers will no longer be able to answer because their children and students are gone. Friday left young and old, male and female, scarred and hurt by what they saw.

Today, many of us around the nation mourn the loss of 26 lives, 26 innocent sons, daughters, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends, Americans. Today, we ask why. Why did this happen? Why would someone do this? Why couldn’t this have been stopped?

I wanted to take a moment to share my immense sorrow for this loss. With each passing day I continue to think about and pray for the families in Newtown: those who lost loved ones, those who survived, those who responded. As our country attempts to move forward and discussions of gun violence, mental health, and safety arise (as they should), I hope that we don’t allow this tragedy to prevent our children from enjoying their communities. I also hope more than anything that America decides today is the day to end this. We cannot afford to lose another child, wife, or brother to senseless, deranged violence.

Despite the politics and legal matters that must inevitably take place, don’t forget the victims of Newtown. Hold your children and your family closer this Christmas. Don’t forget those twenty children, and their bright smiles.

Benjamin Wheeler, 6 • Avielle Richman, 6 • Jessica Rekos, 6 • Caroline Previdi, 6 • Noah Pozner, 6 • Jack Pinto, 6 • Emilie Parker, 6 • Grace McDonnell, 7 • James Mattioli, 6 • Jesse Lewis, 6 • Chase Kowalski, 7 • Catherine Hubbard, 6 • Madeleine Hsu, 6 • Dylan Hockley, 6 • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6 • Josephine Gay, 7 • Olivia Engel, 6 • Daniel Barden, 7 • Charlotte Bacon, 6

Mary Sherlach, 56 • Lauren Rousseau, 30 • Anne Marie Murphy, 52 • Victoria Soto, 27 • Nancy Lanza, 52 • Dawn Hochsprung, 47 • Rachel Davino, 29