Perhaps it was just a coincidence but the news of the Newtown CT school shooting made me literally sick to my stomach. I’ve never been inclined towards reactions like that, nor do I avoid the dark news, so I can keep a gauge of man’s twisted nature. But this time it was a more personal tragedy than any before. A similar extreme shock and loss of innocence reaction to the events of 9/11, yet stepped in closer in range to a place that could affect me the most. New York City belongs to the world, yet Newtown was mine. I grew up in a working-class town which borders it. I was there as a kid for the entire decade of the 90’s, and have been back to visit every couple of years.
In Newtown, a converted railway station is home to what used to be my dad’s favorite comic book store. Going way back, a shack next door was briefly a sportscard and memorabilia shop where I’d buy the latest overpriced pack. Just down the road is what most locals would consider the crown jewel of the area, a fantastic diner that has been around for over 35 years. Their tiny local newspaper is called the Bee.
There’s an excellent public library right in the center of the town. Colonial era houses are a common sight along the quiet two-lane roads cut through the heavily forested hills. It is a showpiece town for the fine state of Connecticut; yet has remained tucked away, allowing it to age quite gracefully.
The illusion of tranquility perished along with the 20 murdered first graders and six adults (plus Lanza and his mother). As the site of such an atrocity, the community will never fully recover. There will always be a shadow.
The Bath (Michigan) School bombing perpetrated by disgruntled local Andrew Kehoe, killed 38 children in 1927. To this day the locals are still marking the anniversaries and honoring the dead. If most people think of Bath at all they’ll eventually think of the deed of its most infamous citizen, Kehoe, who left a carved sign as his suicide note. "Criminals are made, not born."
Apparently we are ready to place blame in the aftermath of Newtown. Politicians from the president on down quickly used this tragedy as a springboard to tighter gun control, part of the separate agenda of a quickly changing global trajectory. The immediate human issues of mental illness and personality disorders, social isolation, and an eroded family life will likely take a backseat to the agenda. Among the citizenry, there are victims all around, as the world seems to get worse.
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Am I Made:
by Paul Brookes
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