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We Must Return to This List

Here is a list of children and adults who were killed on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It’s heartbreaking to read their names and see their ages:

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jesica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino, 29 (Teacher)
Dawn Hochsprung, 47 (School principal)
Nancy Lanza, 52 (Mother of gunman)
Anne Marie Murphy, 52 (Teacher)
Lauren Rousseau, 30 (Teacher)
Mary Sherlach, 56 (School psychologist)
Victoria Soto, 27 (Teacher)

That’s exactly why we must return to this list time and again. If we hold these children, their teachers, and their families in our broken-open hearts, we are less likely to forget. As Elie Wiesel said, “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

There is no single cure for the deadly violence that infects American culture, and yet we must never stop trying to take remedial measures. We live in a democracy, and we will disagree on what those measures should be. But we are more likely to keep working on the problem — and reach consensus on some solutions — if we keep heartbreak and memory alive, and the motivation that comes from them.

In memory of the children who died — and of the adults who were devoted to caring for them — I’m posting the poem “Shoulders” by Naomi Shihab Nye.

The poem speaks for itself. I would only add this: adults who care more about their political ideologies than about our children — everybody’s children — are a danger to all of us. But tens of millions of adults in this country put the children first. For us, this tragedy is yet another call to find any way we can to translate our care into action for the sake of the common good.

In the long run, if we want to honor the dead, the only memorial that matters is a nation and a world in which everyone’s children are safe and have a chance to thrive because the grown-ups cared, never forgot, and never stopped caring.

by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.

(Excerpted from Red Suitcase. Read the full poem here.)

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