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December 20, 2012

Count Your Blessings

  This is South Boston Online’s Christmas issue.  It is several pages longer than usual.  It is filled with many, many features that befit Christmas, the coming of the New Year, and the joy of this special season.  In years past, instead of our usual editorial, we have always published a Christmas essay of some kind in our last issue before Christmas.

  But not this year.  Not in our issue dated December 20, in the Year of our Lord 2012.  No, not this year.

  For last Friday, an unspeakable massacre took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  Twenty-six died (yes, 26) – six of them school employees; 20 of them children, many not much more than toddlers.

  Two more deaths serve as a grisly pair of brackets to this slaughter.  The killer, Adam Lanza, shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, dead before going to the school.  He then took his own life after completing his rampage.

  Will we still celebrate Christmas here in South Boston?  Yes, of course we will.

  But we must all take several moments over the Holidays to reflect upon the fact that much evil remains in our nation – evil that knows no season.  And our hearts and prayers must go out to the grieving families of these young ones, now gone forever.  How fortunate we are to have our own children still with us at this time of year.

  And we must always remember the six dead Sandy Hook School teachers and staff members, who literally gave up their own lives while attempting to save the young lives in their charge.  Many Newtown young ones were indeed saved by their bravery.  As just one heroic example, teacher Victoria Soto apparently shielded her students with her body, which saved her students but cost Soto her life.  The Good Book tells us, “Greater love no one hath, than she who lays down her life for others.” 

  Other stories about the school’s staff will come out as the Connecticut State Police complete their forensic analysis.  You’ll hear about wives and mothers who are no longer there, a couple of marriage proposals that will never be made, and some advanced degrees in education that will now not be awarded.  These stories will be achingly sad to hear about, but please listen to them anyhow.  They are stories that must be told.  The Connecticut State Police spokesman, a Lt. Paul Graves, has promised they will follow every avenue to get a full analysis of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

  As Cardinal Sean O’Malley pointed out in his homily last Sunday, evil has been with us for all of recorded history.  He used the poignant example from Matthew’s Gospel of King Herod’s slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem, surely foreshadowing tragedies like the Newtown massacre.

  We began writing this just after young Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner were laid to rest.  Godspeed and farewell to them.  As we were in the middle of this most difficult editorial, we took some consolation in the fact that there are heroes in our midst.  The Sandy Hook Elementary School’s teachers and staff are certainly among them.

  Purely by coincidence, South Boston Online is publishing an article in this issue (Page ---) on another American Hero named Glen Doherty.  Or is this a coincidence?  Some say that coincidences are actually God’s way of sending his messages anonymously.

  So where do we go from here?  The usual nattering of the media and our elected officials is clouding the air, but one thing is clear as glass.  Action must be taken to prevent further such events.  While overall homicide rates in the U.S. are thankfully dropping, random mass shootings are increasing rapidly – from about one every two years 30 years ago, to more than one every two months since the year 2000.  This tragic problem won’t go away by itself.  We – all of us – must act at once.

  Here’s our suggestion:  The Sandy Hook Elementary School can never be used again.  Not as a school, that is.  So convert that school into a permanent shrine to those who have died in random mass shootings.  In addition, make the school into America’s national headquarters for effective gun control, as well as a research center for determining the real cause of random mass shootings.

  Enough said.  Please accept South Boston Online’s sincere best wishes for a Merry (albeit somewhat subdued) Christmas and a joyful Holiday Season.  Be very, very thankful to have your family around you, safe and unharmed.  Have a Happy New Year as well.

  But please, during the New Year make a firm resolution to keep the pressure on for real action to stop random mass shootings.  All of us have now entered “No Excuse Land” concerning such heart-rending events.

  Thank you.

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