Monday, December 17, 2012

Mourning the precious lives lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy

An essay by Joanie Cox-Henry

"The good guys are coming...Show me your smile."  These were the powerful and heroic words of first-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig. 

On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza gathered up his mother's guns, brutally murdered her and then proceeded to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He was once a student there. He shot and killed 20 children and six adult staff members before taking his own life. The stories that are emerging about the selflessness and bravery of how the teachers inside the building acted are miraculous. I have never heard anything more tragic and detestable than what Lanza did to his victims.

The natural reaction is to scream out: How could this happen? And more importantly, why did this happen? Lanza was clearly disturbed. There are now reports surfacing from people who knew him claiming he didn't feel pain. Reports from the paint Lanza as "extremely bright but socially awkward and — until Friday — was not known as someone who was potentially violent."

Other reports have emerged stating Lanza and his mother Nancy would hit the gun range together. When you see something like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre happen, it really does feel like the Mayans are right and the world is ending Dec. 21. For so many families, the world did end that day. 

As I look at the faces of the victims, my heart aches. Such innocent lives ended for absolutely no reason. It brings about feelings of anger and despair for everyone involved. Perhaps Lanza told his mother what he planned to do at the school that day and when she tried to stop him, he shot her in the head. We will likely never know the true reason of why the gunman did this or what was really going through his head in his final moments. But this nightmare has happened and now we are left to pick up the pieces. I encourage you to find hope in the stories of how people came together inside the school that day. Think about the miracle of 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto, who reacted to Lanza by locking her children in a closet and telling him they were  on the other side of the school. Her body was found near the children she saved according to a report on

While it's hard to fathom, this horrific tragedy could've been even worse if not for the brave souls who sacrificed themselves to protect their students. Teacher aids Rachel D'Avino and Anne Marie Murphy also lost their lives that day shielding their students from the gunfire with their own bodies. Further reports are now emerging on the internet that  D'Avino's boyfriend planned to propose to her on Christmas Eve.

When you look at the 20 faces of those beautiful first graders who lost their lives, I see 20 angels who were instantly drawn into God's loving arms. They are all in a better place where death and violence do not exist. The only way to fight this tragedy is with prayer. Pray hard for families to fill their children with love instead of bringing an already troubled person to a gun range. Pray for God to come back into homes and hearts where he once dwelled. Pray for mercy. Pray for peace. Pray for stability. Pray for every loved one in each victim's life. Pray for families to stand by each other and be there for each other when times are tough. Pray for people to pick up a phone when they're thinking about picking up a gun and ending it all. And instead of idolizing fictional TV characters or movie stars and looking to Batman to save you, remember all the heroes inside Sandy Hook Elementary that day who have left behind a legacy of kindness and sacrifice we can all respect and learn from. 

Do not lose faith when something so tragic happens. Instead, use it to fuel hope and salvation in those of us left behind. And just as that courageous teacher told her students inside the school that day, find comfort in knowing the good guys are coming. 

Contact Joanie Cox at

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