What will this place of unbearable tragedy become?

On January 13, residents of Newtown, Connecticut gathered to discuss the fate of Sandy Hook Elementary where 20 first graders and six staff were slaughtered December 14, 2012 by a 20-year-old using a military-style rifle.

Should the school be demolished?


Become a park?

A center for peace education?

Designated a shrine?

I am trying to imagine this, as I think about taking my children to their schools years ago. I see them now, J and H, each running after the car the first few days. I was a wreck, looking in the rearview. Those little arms reaching for me. Pulling to the curb, I would lean across and open the door. “Come on.” Then I’d drive around the block, stop, and accompany J, and years later, H, delivering each to what I believed was the safety of his classroom and teacher.

I am trying to imagine, as I think of my own childhood and the elementary school within walking distance of our house. I see a vast front yard, a side playground, and steep steps my best friend Janie and I pogo’d up and down.

Barack Obama called December 14, 2012, the worst day of his presidency.

I am trying to imagine the horror of this day. I am imagining the horror of this day. Hearing about the shooting. Rushing to the school. Saying, “Please, not my child. Not my child.” And knowing that if it is not my child, it is someone else’s.

It is someone else’s in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and all areas targeted by US barbarism.

It is someone else’s when a funeral procession, wedding party, any activity is ended by a drone attack. Just as it has been and will persist during the tenure of Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the candidate who opposes only the “dumb wars,” who promised to close GITMO, who has a “kill list,” and who has authorized the use of more unmanned aerial vehicles than his predecessor George Bush.

Just as it will continue to be under the “leadership” of any jingoist.

But the worst day of Obama’s presidency—12/14/12 when 20 American children were massacred in Newtown.

I am trying to imagine that building in Connecticut. Regardless of its razing, any alteration in appearance, or what it is named, it will be remembered always as a place of tragedy.

I am trying to imagine how many gatherings there may be of family members and community residents, discussing whether or not to level, camouflage, beautify, after more Newtowns. More Anywhereville schools. More mall and theater shootings, certain to continue here at home—actually the collateral damage of a war-worshipping society and an economic system that profits from the deaths of human beings, from the destruction of all life, really.

And I am trying to imagine the families, so many now, in the countries ravaged by US greed. Have they gathered to ask, “What will this place of unbearable loss become?

Do they wonder what we’re thinking, those of us thousands of miles away, with their children’s blood on our hands, those of us who really do know that each act of imperial violence is committed not just in our names but by us?

Missy Comley Beattie lives in Baltimore or less. Email her at missybeat@gmail.com.

3 Responses to What will this place of unbearable tragedy become?

  1. Roseann Lautner

    You are so awesome! I do not believe I have read through a single thing like that before. So great to discover someone with a few original thoughts on this issue. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

  2. Nice piece, however, once the facts are taken into consideration, out of place. The building referred to a Sandy Hook Elementary was in great disrepair and was prohibitively expensive to refurbish, not unlike buildings one and two of the world trade center. I do not know the extent of the asbestos in SHE, WTC 1 and 2 would have cost millions, if not billions to bring down within EPA standards. Lastly, it has been confirmed by MSNBC, NBC and the CT state police that no long weapon was found in the building, but only 4 handguns. Being a marksman myself and talking with expert marksmen, they have concluded that there is no way an autistic kid/man could have pulled this off when it would have been difficult for even one person of delta force status to do this accurately with 4 handguns. This whole story stinks of government psyops. I don’t know how much of the official story is true, but I know that Adam Lanza’s digital footprint fell of the map over 2 years ago. If your so inclined, research his date of death and the day that the red cross offered condolences to the families. It’s hard to fake a digital footprint, especially when the likes of archive.org takes snapshots of websites.

  3. S. Brian Wilson, the Vietnam vet who lost his legs when he laid down on the tracks to try to stop arms shipments to the Contras waging another of our illegal wars in Nicaragua, said
    ~ “We are not more than they, and they are not less than us.” This we/they imbalance begins in schools like Sandy Hook, where children are divided against each other in teams, then in inter-school competitions. The stranger over the hill becomes “the enemy” and the elite use xenophobia to propel our children into battle for corporate profits. Jesus said “In the kingdom of heaven you are not man and woman, but one in the spirit,” then He taught us to pray that it be done on earth as it is in heaven, and when we pray to act as if our prayers have been answered. So we should be acting as if we are one. If the money we more truly worship was right, then we would trust in God, and make war no more.