By Sarah Corneau
He-roes: a. those who show great courage; b. people who, in the opinion of others, have heroic qualities or have performed heroic acts and are regarded as models or ideals.
After many days of mourning for the victims and their families of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, I have finally come to a place where I can speak about the horrific events that occurred that day. Not a day has gone by that I have not shed tears for those lost and the families that have to face this tragedy head on, with no escape, but I have been unable to talk about it and have yet to watch the news. I am not denying the reality or ignoring the existence of these innocent lives lost, but instead, I have had to protect myself because I have struggled so severely with even what I have learned through others. However, I have slowly allowed myself to read their names, their ages and some of their stories.
The person responsible for this tragedy will have no name in this article, for I refuse to give him any attention – he will not be found in the history of Brandfiller. My decision to write was purely based on honoring those that fought to protect the children, acting bravely. It is my effort to help make this tragedy about them and the innocent kids, instead of the shooter.
Through my own grieving process, I have heard stories of heroism and it has given me the ability to start dealing with what happened, grasping hold of something other than the senseless act of violence. Together, let’s honor some of these heroes.
Principal, Dawn Lafferty Hichsprung, died trying to stop the gunman after he had broken into the school. Not only did this brave woman try to throw herself at the shooter, she had the forethought to switch on the loudspeaker when it all began so that the classrooms could hear the commotion. This decision gave many the opportunity to react and plan ahead.
Special education teacher Anne Marie Murphy, whosebody was found shielding her students from the shooter, reacted the only way she could – trying to save them.
Victoria Soto, a 27 year old in her third year of teaching, hid many of her students, ultimately saving their lives. She died diverting the shooter and sacrificing her own life. For those she could not hide, she was found huddled over.
And the list could go on, with many more acting heroically during the chaos.
Kindergarten teacher, Janet Vollmer, who locked her classroom door, pulled the shades and hid her kids behind a bookcase, quietly reading them a story to keep them calm. They all survived.
First grade teacher, Kaitlin Roig, locked herself and 14 of her students in a bathroom and spoke quietly to them, attempting to let her voice and her words be the last thing they heard, not the gunfire. For she thought they would all die. When the shooting stopped, not even the police badges sliding under the door would make her open it. The police had to get a key and unlock it. They all survived.
Music teacher Maryrose Kristopik locked herself and her students in a closet, putting musical instruments in front of the door, creating a barricade. They all survived.
Although many were spared because of these heroes, many others were left with no time to respond or no means of defense. For those people, young and old, I pray. I pray that there was no pain or suffering. And, I pray that their families find strength and purpose – a way to move forward, especially those grieving the loss of their babies, all between the ages of 6 and 7. A child, the heart and soul of any parent and what is most precious in their world, should always have a chance to live, experience and become. For the 20 children lost that day, I am so sorry. You will not be forgotten and you will always be loved.