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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Thursday May 23rd 2024

Newtown and Us

By Peter Molenaar

Among the countless commentaries written in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy there was an anomaly. The author advised that we not pursue empathy toward the parents. Any such attempt to connect with that moment of anguish and the extended grief would fall woefully short. Allow me to disagree slightly with this assertion.

It does help to bow the head and close one”'s eyes. Call it whatever, with me as your witness, even atheistic communists do this. By this effort human beings are able to approach comprehension. We must try.

To the Newtown Federation of Teachers, the Newtown Federation of Custodians, the Newtown Federation of Educational Personnel and the American Federation of School Administrators, the president of the AFL-CIO conveyed in part the following:

“”¦As a father myself, this tragedy is a parent”'s worst nightmare”¦do what we do best ”“ support one another as we try to recover from this senseless inexplicable horror.”

It was deeply gratifying to receive from the Labor leadership, email message boxes through which thousands of us expressed ourselves as a collective voice. I contributed the following words:

“For members of organized labor, solidarity and empathy go hand in hand”¦we try to comprehend”¦we also shed tears.”

Six-year-old John placed this note in the casket of his friend:


You are my best friend.

We had fun together.

I will miss you.

I will talk to you in my prayers.

I love you Jack.

Love, John

Moving forward”¦

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has produced a leaflet featuring a bright photo of six smiling very much alive pre-teens under the caption “Let”'s Dream Together!”.

It is a call to convene a partnership between parents and teachers, a call for change in our schools and community.

I plan to be there.

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