Tragedy after tragedy reminds us of what is important
The tragic news from Sandy Hook Elementary has galvanized the nation in support of dozens of grieving families. Blame will be cast and speeches made, urging reforms on gun ownership and mental health treatments. We can only speculate on whether our government takes action on any promises. It’s easy to talk when tragedy overcomes our nation.
I’m at an age that I can look back at several tragedies in American history.
November 22, 1963
A Friday. School officials let us out early. Only after we arrived home did we learn an assassin had taken the life of our president, JFK. Before the birth of CNN and FoxNew and a hundred other cable stations, we had three local stations. All weekend, our family was glued to the television, watching NBC’s coverage of the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I was eight years old.
January 28, 1986
I watched in horror and a sick fascination as the Challenger exploded over and over and over again, as we tried to make sense of a senseless act. I watched the launch because of the novelty of having a teacher on board. If not for this anomaly, coverage wouldn’t have taken place.
I was home on maternity leave. My daughter was six days old.
October 14-16, 1987
The nation was glued to the developing story of Jessica McClure, an eighteen-month old girl who fell down a well. It took rescuers fifty-eight hours to pull her out alive. I was six-months pregnant with my son.
September 11, 2001
A man I worked with received a call from his wife, and he informed us of the hit on the first tower. We listened in horror on the radio as the plane flew into the second tower. I heard Jim Miklaszewski report live from the Pentagon as the third plane slammed into it. Someone turned on the television in the cafeteria, and we watched as both towers collapsed. Numb, the events too surreal to comprehend, we tried to stay focused on work. I was to attend a five-year anniversary dinner for my investment club that night. Instead, I spent the afternoon scrambling for emails and phone numbers (this was before yahoo groups) to tell the members the easiest decision I’d ever had to make: Go home to your families.
Columbine, Waco, Oklahoma City and now Newtown, CT. The names run together in a sea of senselessness and grief.
It’s sad that we need a tragedy to remind of us of what is important – our families. Your character’s angst isn’t important. Deadlines can wait. Forget the little things that keep you apart from the ones you love. Pick up the phone, email a note, Skype, do whatever it takes to breach that gulf. Hug them, hold them, show them how much you love them. Do you want to go to bed tomorrow with their names on a list circulating the globe?
Hug your family today. Never forget what is truly important.