Innocence Lost and Remembered … 12/15/12

15 Dec


I heard the news yesterday with the rest of the world that yet another unfathomable tragedy had occured in our country, this time involving the loss on true innocence. You don’t get anymore innocent than a small, bright eyed, excited child waiting for Christmas to get here and sitting in a kindergarten class with their true first group of “friends” in their tiny lives. Those fragile, innocent lives snuffed out violently by a person with no regard for humanity, mental illness or no mental illness. While most are focusing on the identity of the shooter, I’d rather focus on the victims and share their lives with those who might read this. They’re the ones that deserve the attention, not some crazy lunatic who is now going to be the person another crazy person will try to “one-up” with a worse crime.

The victims should be the focus as well as their families who are right now trying to comprehend with the rest of the world why their child/loved one is no longer alive, how it happened, realizing that now Christmas will always be a sad reminder instead of the joyous occasion of love and togetherness it should be. Now it’s the furthest thing from “togetherness” to these unfortunate families. Parents lost children, siblings lost siblings, all of these victims were important to someone and that should be remembered. Thank you Anderson Cooper for being one of the VERY few in media to recognize this and put the focus where it should be.

All six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School were women. Of the 20 children who were shot to death, eight were boys and 12 were girls. All the children were ages 6 or 7. Below is the list released by Connecticut State Police.
— Charlotte Bacon, Female, 02-22-06
— Daniel Barden, Male, 09-25-05
— Rachel Davino, Female, 07-17-83
— Olivia Engel, Female, 07-18-06
— Josephine Gay, Female, 12-11-05
— Ana Marquez-Greene, Female, 04-04-06:

A year ago, 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene was reveling in holiday celebrations with her extended family on her first trip to Puerto Rico. The girl’s grandmother, Elba Marquez, said the child’s family moved to Connecticut just two months ago, drawn from Canada, in part, by Sandy Hook’s pristine reputation. The grandmother’s brother, Jorge Marquez, is mayor of a Puerto Rican town and said the child’s 9-year-old brother was also at the school, but he escaped safely. Elba Marquez had just visited the new home over the Thanksgiving holiday and finds herself perplexed by what happened. “It was a beautiful place, just beautiful,” she said. “What happened does not match up with the place where they live.”

— Dylan Hockley, Male, 03-08-06

— Dawn Hochsprung, Female, 06-28-65


Dawn Hochsprung’s pride in Sandy Hook Elementary was clear. She regularly tweeted photos from her time as principal. Just this week, it was an image of students rehearsing for their winter concert. She viewed her school as a model, telling The Newtown Bee newspaper in 2010 that “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day.” She had worked to make Sandy Hook a place of safety, too, and in October, the 47-year-old Hochsprung shared a picture of the school’s evacuation drill with the message “Safety first.” When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend. Officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him. “She had an extremely likable style about her,” said Gerald Stomski, first selectman of Woodbury, where Hochsprung lived and had taught. “She was an extremely charismatic principal while she was here.”

— Madeleine F. Hsu, Female, 07-10-06

— Catherine V. Hubbard, Female, 06-08-06

— Chase Kowalski, Male, 10-31-05

Chase Kowalski was always outside, playing in the backyard, riding his bicycle. Just last week, he was visiting neighbor Kevin Grimes, telling him about completing — and winning — his first mini-triathlon. “You couldn’t think of a better child,” Grimes said. Grimes’ own five children all attended Sandy Hook, too. Cars lined up outside the Kowalski’s ranch home Saturday, and a state trooper’s car idled in the driveway. Grimes spoke of the boy only in the present tense.

— Jesse Lewis, Male, 06-30-06

— James Mattioli, Male, 03-22-06

— Grace McDonnell, Female, 11-04-05


— Anne Marie Murphy, Female, 07-25-60

A happy soul. A good mother, wife and daughter. Artistic, fun-loving, witty and hardworking.
Remembering their daughter, Anne Marie Murphy, her parents had no shortage of adjectives to offer Newsday. When news of the shooting broke, Hugh and Alice McGowan waited for word of their daughter as hour by hour ticked by. And then it came. Authorities told the couple their daughter was a hero who helped shield some of her students from the rain of bullets. As the grim news arrived, the victim’s mother reached for her rosary. “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered,” her father told the newspaper. “It happens on TV. It happens elsewhere.”

— Emilie Parker, Female, 05-12-06


Fighting back tears and struggling to catch his breath, Robbie Parker, Emilie’s father, told the world about a little girl who loved to draw and was always smiling, and he also reserved surprising words of sympathy for the gunman. “She was beautiful. She was blond. She was always smiling,” he said. To the gunman’s family, he said, “I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you.” He said he struggled to explain the death to Emilie’s two siblings, 3 and 4. “They seem to get the fact that they have somebody they’re going to miss very much,” he said. Parker said his daughter loved to try new things — except for new food. And she was quick to cheer up those in need. “She never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those she around her,” he said. The world is a better place because Emilie was in it, he said. “I’m so blessed to be her dad,” he said.

— Jack Pinto, Male, 05-06-06

— Noah Pozner, Male, 11-20-06


— Caroline Previdi, Female, 09-07-06

— Jessica Rekos, Female, 05-10-06

— Avielle Richman, Female, 10-17-06

— Lauren Rousseau, Female, 06-?-82

Lauren Rousseau had spent years working as a substitute teacher and doing other jobs. So she was thrilled when she finally realized her goal this year to become a full-time teacher at Sandy Hook. “It was the best year of her life,” her mother, Teresa Rousseau, told the Danbury News-Times, where she is a copy editor. Rousseau has been called gentle, spirited and active. She was a lover of music, dance and theater. “I’m used to having people die who are older,” her mother said, “not the person whose room is up over the kitchen.”

— Mary Sherlach, Female, 02-11-56

Mary Sherlach

When the shots rang out, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, threw herself into the danger. Janet Robinson, the superintendent of Newtown Public Schools, said Sherlach and the school’s principal ran toward the shooter. They lost their lives, rushing toward him. Even as Sherlach neared retirement, her job at Sandy Hook was one she loved. Those who knew her called her a wonderful neighbor, a beautiful person, a dedicated educator. Her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, told the South Jersey Times that Sherlach relished helping children overcome their problems. She had planned to leave work early on Friday, he said. In a news conference Saturday, he told reporters the loss was devastating, but that Sherlach was doing what she loved. “Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” he said, “working with the children.”

— Victoria Soto, Female, 11-04-85

She beams in photos. Her enthusiasm was evident. She was doing, those who knew her say, what she loved. And now, Victoria Soto is being called a hero. Though details of the 27-year-old teacher’s death remain fuzzy, her name has been invoked again and again as a portrait of selflessness and humanity among unfathomable evil. A cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News that investigators told his family she was killed while shielding her students from danger. She reportedly hid some students in a bathroom or closet, ensuring they were safe. “She was trying to shield, get her children into a closet and protect them from harm,” Wiltsie told ABC. “And by doing that, put herself between the gunman and the children.”  Soto’s goal was simply to be a teacher. “She lost her life doing what she loved,” Wiltsie said.

— Benjamin Wheeler, Male, 09-12-06

— Allison N. Wyatt, Female, 07-03-06

Thank you to The Associated Press for the information on the victims. It’s important that we understand who they were, they’re more than just names that now will appear on tombstones, they’re people, they’re us, they’re you and me.

Please send up prayers of love, comfort, healing and understanding for all involved. At this time in our world, we need each other more than ever and it’s important that we all come together as people, not just as countries, democrats or republicans, blacks or whites. We’re all people with the same basic needs and wants living together.


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