6:34 PM EST, December 21, 2012
When evil came to Sandy Hook Elementary School, goodness and strength rose up to meet it.
No doubt, the depravity of the killings hangs like a pall over our state. We are bereft. The nation — indeed the world — grieves.
Yet despite this, goodness shines through.
The last, selfless acts of the six women who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School were to protect the children under their care. They gave their lives doing that. When Principal Dawn Hochsprung heard Adam Lanza blast his way through the school doors with a semi-automatic gun, she ran into the corridor with school psychologist Mary Scherlach. They didn't flee from the gunfire; rather, both women ran toward it.
Ms. Hochsprung warned colleagues to get back as they were about to step into the hallway and the line of fire. She shouted a warning to lock the doors. Adam Lanza killed her and Ms. Scherlach.
When first-grade teacher Victoria Soto heard the gunfire, she herded her students into a closet. When the gunman confronted her, she bravely tried to divert him by saying her students were in an auditorium. Adam Lanza shot her and six students who tried to run. Police later found seven surviving students in the closet.
Adam Lanza shot behavioral therapist Rachel Davino, who died trying to shield students with her own body, according to police.
Substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau died when Adam Lanza opened fire on her and her 14 students. Mourners at her funeral remembered her as "an angel."
Special education aide Anne Marie Murphy who was married with four children of her own, died trying to protect 6-year-old Dylan Hockley. "We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died, but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide," Dylan's family said.
Untold acts of courage and grace are scattered like rays of light against the memories of Dec. 14. The janitor who ran through the hallways telling people to hide and checking doors to make sure they were locked, putting his own life at risk. An unknown person, perhaps Ms. Hochsprung, turning on the public address system so everyone could hear the gunfire and seek shelter. The teacher who yanked two students into a classroom and out of danger.
Kindergarten teacher Janet Vollmer covered the windows and locked the classroom door when she heard the shots, sheltering the students behind a bookcase and reading to them to keep them calm. First-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig herded her students into a bathroom and told them "I love you very much" because she thought it might be the last thing they were going to hear.
Music teacher Maryrose Kristopik barricaded 15 students in a closet, holding the door shut. Mary Ann Jacob, who worked in the school library, heard the bullets, then blocked the door with a file cabinet and hurried 18 fourth-graders into a supply closet. She kept the kids busy drawing pictures until the police came.
Voices Of Peace
Had the first responders not arrived so quickly, the carnage would have been worse.
Even in the shooting's aftermath, parents of murdered children have emerged as powerful voices of peace. Such as Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, and Robbie Parker, father of 6-year-old Emilie. They have assured the Lanza family of their prayers and asked everyone to unite in compassion. Can we not but listen?
As investigators pore over details of this unthinkable day, one thing shines through. Amid the fear, the blood and the brutality that took place in Sandy Hook Elementary School, goodness emerged to save lives and comfort survivors. And during this bleakest of all Decembers, may this power of goodness give us hope.
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