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I will be celebrating their lives, acknowledging their sacrifice, and residing in contemplative refl



There are many variables and few absolutes.

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There are many variables and few absolutes.

Guest Writer
Non-staff Guest Writer

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[Comments] While a departure from our regular focus, we, the inmates of FCI Petersburg, feel compelled to share our sincere sorrow and grief for the victims of the Sandy Hook School massacre. Events of this magnitude -- with victims so innocent -- rarely come to existence in the world we live in. And when they do, they take all of us by surprise. They take a toll on all who hear of them.

When I was in 9th grade at Chamblee High School the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred. I heard about them while driving from a dentist appointment to school. While it was not clear what had occurred on the radio, upon arriving at the school my Dad and I soon found out. The doors were chained and a police officer had to let me in. The school spent the rest of the day watching what was to unfold on the classroom televisions. Upon arriving at home that day, my Mom hugged both my sister and myself a bit harder and longer than usual and, I'm sure, thought about all of the could-have-beens.

While the attacks of 9/11 were horrendous, I don't feel as if they were as impactful as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Maybe it's because I was young then and am older now, but this just feels more troublesome, more real. It feels more personal somehow. Regardless, I'm sure that this event will stick with all of us just as 9/11 has. As I now remember driving to school with my Dad and listening to the news on NPR that fateful morning of 9/11, I too will remember 12/14. I will remember waiting on mail call while at FCI Petersburg. I will remember looking over to the Spanish TV and seeing something unfolding under a breaking news banner. I also will remember stopping my work, pulling up a chair, and staring at the TV in disbelief. I will remember the shock and the disbelief. I will remember the sorrow. I'm sure that everyone else will remember the same.

What we must now do is remember what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. We must remember the 6 adults and 20 children who died at the hands of a very troubled, mentally ill young man. We must remember the victims for their lives, their innocence, and their sacrifice. And we must do what we can to ensure that an event like this never becomes reality ever again. To do so, we must first remember the victims of this senseless tragedy.

  1. Dawn Hochsprung, 47, was the principle of Sandy Hook Elementary School. While only an administrator at the school for two years, she cared so much for her students that she courageously confronted the gunman by lunging at him in an effort to protect her students. Dawn died in the process of valiantly protecting those under her care. She will be remembered.
  2. Mary Sherlach, 56, a school psychologist for the Sandy Hook Elementary School since 1994, Mary spent her professional life doing all in her power to help the children under her care from straying from the right path. Mary, too, was killed while attempting to protect those under her care. She will be remembered.
  3. Victoria Soto, 27, the first-grade teacher from room 10 was all smiles and enthusiasm. She will always be remembered as Miss Victoria Soto in Room 10 and for giving her life in an effort to protect her students from the gunman. Victoria barricaded her students in a closet in an effort to protect them while she lost her life confronting the gunman. She will be remembered.
  4. Emilie Parker, 6, was a first-grader at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. A devoted big sister and aspiring artist, Emilie lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  5. Jesse Lewis, 6, was a first-grader at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. A lover of all animals he had ridden horse-back since the age of one and a half. Jesse lost his life in the shooting. He will be remembered.
  6. Ana Marquez-Greene, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She will be missed dearly by her mother, father, and brother. Ana lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  7. Lauren Rousseau, 30, was a teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. After years as a substitute teacher, this fall she finally realized her dreams of becoming a full time teacher. Lauren lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  8. Benjamin Wheeler, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He will be dearly missed by his mother, father, and brother. Benjamin lost his life in the shooting. He will be remembered.
  9. Charlotte Bacon, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Charlotte lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  10. Daniel Barden, 7, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He played soccer and was on the swim team. Daniel was killed in the shooting. He will be remembered.
  11. Rachel Davino, 29, was a teacher's aide at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Rachel lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  12. Olivia Engel, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She loved posing for photos, her classes, and reveling in the spotlight. Olivia lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  13. Josephine Gay, 7, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Josephine lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  14. Dylan Hockley, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He will be missed by his mother, father, and brothers. Dylan lost his life in the shooting. He will be remembered.
  15. Madeleine Hsu, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Madeleine lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  16. Catherine Violet Hubbard, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Catherine lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  17. Chase Kowalski, 7, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He loved playing outside and even just recently won his first mini-triathlon. Chase lost his life in the shooting. He will be remembered.
  18. Nancy Lanza, 52, was the mother of the alleged shooter and his first victim. She was known as a goodhearted person and a friend. Nancy lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  19. James Mattioli, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He was thought of as a sweetheart by many. James lost his life in the shooting. He will be remembered.
  20. Grace Audrey McDonnell, 7, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She was a girly girl who loved to dress up and equally loved Puddin', her dog. Grace lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  21. Anne Marie Murphy, 52, was a teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She was a mother, wife, and daughter. During the shooting she lost her life by shielding her students from the gunfire. Anne lost her life in the shooting while defending her students. She will be remembered.
  22. Jack Armistead Pinto, 6, was a first-grader at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He was known as an avid sports fan and played a number of sports. New York Giants' wide-receiver Victor Cruz dedicated the following football game to the memory of Jack. Jack lost his life in the shooting. He will be remembered.
  23. Noah Pozner, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He was known as a brilliant student who retained a wild streak. Noah lost his life in the shooting. He will be remembered.
  24. Caroline Previdi, 6, was a first-grader at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She loved creative efforts such as dancing and drawing. Caroline lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  25. Jessica Rekos, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She was an animal lover with a particular fondness for horses. Jessica lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.
  26. Avielle Richman, 6, was a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She loved to read her Harry Potter books. Avielle lost her life in the shooting. She will be remembered.

The 26 victims of this horrific tragedy can't be brought back. To those of the Christian faith, they are all now in heaven. This is my personal belief. But here, in the world we live in, there are many questions and few answers. There are many variables and few absolutes. Some are going after the gun lobby. Others blame violent video games. I, for one, will not be attacking anyone in the memory of the twenty-six who lost their lives. I will be celebrating their lives, acknowledging their sacrifice, and residing in contemplative reflection.

Only through growth can this tragedy make a true difference. Mind you, it can't be undone, but it can provide the reason and the motivation for us -- as a united world -- to strive for something better, more innocent, and more compassionate. Only by acknowledging that something went terribly wrong, and understanding that something is broken which must be fixed, can we truly honor the memory of the twenty-six.


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