Getting older has helped me realize I grew up surrounded by a bubble in my small hometown. My parents sheltered me and I was lucky that harm never came my way except through bullies in my school.
I was a television news junkie and that’s where I began to gather information about the world outside. In my 17 years of growing up in the same town, the word “murder” never made it into the newspaper that covered Throckmorton County.
Not until the assassination of John F. Kennedy did I get a glimpse of what a gun can do in the wrong hands.
The purpose of this column is not to lay blame or dissect the opposing views; it is to express the sadness I feel at the loss of innocent friends and co-workers plus people I don’t even know who have died at the hands of a person with a gun.
During the early years of my time as public information officer for the Killeen ISD, the world turned upside down for me. Mass killings were not in my vocabulary.
In 1991, I watched in horror and disbelief as reporters stood in front of Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen and began to state, “Some of the dead are KISD employees.” I worked with some of those who died and they were friends.
I will never forget the eerie feeling of being sent the next morning to the scene of the killings to be interviewed by Ron Stone of KPRC-TV in Houston. My confused mind tried to make sense of it all and communicate with the TV audience, but under a clear sky, the surroundings were still ominous.
Then came the shooting of students and teachers at Columbine High School. The taking of these innocent teenage lives was beyond my comprehension.
I was awestruck but glad I attended a conference of the Texas School Public Relations Association to hear the communications director of that district talk about the chaos and tragedy wrought on that day.
The taking of innocent lives in elementary schools, churches and the recent school shooting in Florida and the loss of 17 students and teachers has motivated me to at least express my unbelief, anger and grief through the power of words.
I will never forget the mother in Florida who lost her 14 year-old daughter. She was begging and pleading for someone to do something. In a lot of these cases, a Band-Aid has been put on the wound and it’s forgotten until it happens the next time.
I throw my support behind the students in Florida who are not giving up and demanding a response. This groundswell of students who watched their classmates and teachers die is the best we’ve got going right now. I feel they will never let this go and will apply pressure where it belongs to change this culture of taking the lives of children and others who do not deserve to die.
The same is to be said of the killings in Las Vegas and so many others that have occurred.
I know I took a big risk writing this column because the issue is complex and scores of people are involved. Sadly, parents are at the forefront as through their tears they do whatever they can to work with influential people who can bring this ugliness in society to an end and make this country a safe place for all to be educated, worship and work without fear.
God bless and protect us all.