The New Normal?
August: Back to School Backpacks! Notebooks! iPads! Police Officers?
Excited children talking to friends they haven't seen all summer, decked out in their new school clothes with fresh haircuts happily dancing around the nervous first-time parents...exactly what you expect to see on the first day of school. As I take in the scene I am struck dumb when looking at the kids getting off the bus. At first glance, nothing looks "off," just children getting off the bus and running to the playground. Then my eyes zero in on the two police officers standing in the street in flak jackets "policing" the school zone. The kids are oblivious to them. I look around and no one else seems to notice either. My mind instantly takes me back to my school days: jumping off the bus, skipping up the steps to my classroom, not a care in the world. I never feared for my life. Stranger danger was far from the safe cocoon of my school yard. It certainly was not a classmate who might take their misplaced rage out on a fellow student. That is the difference between the 1970s and 2000s.
Columbine, though not the first school shooting ever recorded, was the first of modern times. On April 20, 1999, teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold stormed their Littleton, Colorado, High School and gunned down thirty-four students and teachers, killing thirteen before turning the guns on themselves. As a nation, we mourned so many innocents, gone in seconds. We tried to make sense out of this unconscionable act of violence. This murderous ambush was beyond comprehension. Fast forward 20 years and the United States has now seen 240 mass school shootings. Our nation will never be the same.
Part 2: Is there a why? Have we learned anything?