Over the course of one awful day, my idyllic Connecticut town went from being comfortably anonymous to suddenly notorious. Dec.14, 2012 is a date that no one who lives in Newtown, Conn. will ever forget. It’s the day that a sick, horrible and highly disturbed individual claimed 26 lives, 20 of which were children’s, before taking his own in Sandy Hook Elementary School. It’s also the day that the nation came together in mourning and exhibited extraordinary acts of kindness. The thoughtfulness of Rider faculty displays the unity and solidarity existent not only between students and staff, but human beings.
Newtown is shrouded in sorrow. While this tragedy devastated countless families and seemingly shook the foundation of our nation to its core, the compassion shown by scores of individuals, cities and countries demonstrates how people can set aside their differences and join together for the sake of those who were murdered and advocate for the future.
This act of incomprehensible evil has reverberated not only across the nation, but also throughout the world. The U.S. flag flew at half-staff at the U.S. embassies in cities like London and Rome. Demonstrations of solidarity and mourning were displayed all over the globe. While it’s unfortunate that it took such a horrific tragedy to bring people together, the compassion that has been shown for the families of the victims and the townspeople is staggering. An astounding amount of money has been raised in honor of the deceased, the sidewalks and streets are covered in innumerable bunches of flowers, notes and teddy bears. Various people and organizations donated significant sums of money just to give Newtown residents free haircuts, free pizza and free frozen yogurt, among other things.
Students and faculty at Rider were also affected. Several thoughtful professors were wonderful enough to email me when they realized that Newtown was my hometown. Friends and people who had graduated years ago also reached out after hearing the news. My sister was studying abroad in Wales and when she was introduced to strangers they expressed their sympathy and condolences. It’s touching to see that in the wake of such a heartbreaking, awful event that shakes one’s faith in civilization, there is such a core of human decency that binds people together regardless of race, creed, nationality or political opinion.
Even now, almost two months after the shooting, the devastating loss of life is being acknowledged and lamented. My mother works at Newtown Savings Bank and they received countless donations made out to the affected families and other gifts to the point that sorting through it all was overwhelming for the staff. The Sandy Hook Elementary School chorus was greeted by staggering applause and emotional reactions during its stirring performance of “America the Beautiful” at the Super Bowl.
Since the Sandy Hook shooting has been branded into the public consciousness, it has elicited a litany of reactions, from polarizing discussions on gun control to security in schools and mental health. Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the politics, at least he or she can see in the aftermath how people around the country and world can come together in such a time of sorrow.
Features & Entertainment Editor
Printed in the 2/8/13 edition.