America, we must protect our children!

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 12/28/2018, 4:13 p.m.
Six years ago, Dec. 14 started off like an ordinary morning in classrooms across our country. Children rushed into school ...

Children’s Defense Fund

Six years ago, Dec. 14 started off like an ordinary morning in classrooms across our country. Children rushed into school bundled against the cold, chatting and laughing and trying to contain all of their extra energy and excitement from the bright holiday season.

Concerts were scheduled, classroom parties were planned, and teachers were squeezing in their last few lessons before winter break.

What began as a normal day in Newtown, Connecticut, became an unforgettably horrible day – 20 first-graders and six adults walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and never walked back out.

When President Barack Obama spoke two days later at a prayer vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, he said, “This is our first task: caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged. And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? … Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children – all of them – safe from harm?”

Obama said if we were honest with ourselves, we knew the answer: No.

He continued, “Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America. … We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws, can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent or another town from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that – then surely we have an obligation to try.”

Obama did try, but once again, as a nation we failed.

We failed every person in America who has been injured and killed by guns since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School including, most heartbreakingly, thousands of children. We failed the high school students murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. We failed the toddlers, children and teenagers among the worshipers killed at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. We failed thousands of children killed in their homes and communities across our nation, and the family members, classmates and friends all of them left behind.