As parents, as Americans, as humans, it is difficult not to have been affected by the tragic and senseless violence in Arizona one week ago today. Â While the target of the horrific attack may have been a politician, all indications are that this was not an act of political unrest, but rather theÂ appallingÂ andÂ inexplicableÂ brutality of a twisted and mentally disturbed mind. Â Sadly, the lives of the innocent were brutally taken, including one sweet nine year old girl, Christina Taylor Green. Â As you have surely seen reported, the young budding politician had recently been elected her class president, and was born on another tragic day, September 11, 2001. Â She seems like she was the perfect little girl, as all our daughters are, especially at that wonderful age of innocence and wonder. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and loss experienced by her family, and the families of the others killed and injured. Â I can only feel sadness as I embrace my own children and shudder within at the thought of such possibilities in our lives.
The President spoke emotionally at a memorial service in Arizona, and First Lady Michelle Obama released a statement that hits home from a parent’s perspective… here is an excerpt of her thoughts for parents:
“As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard.Â It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones.Â It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter.Â And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in â€“ and the world in which our children will grow up.
In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well.Â The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have â€“ and they donâ€™t lend themselves to easy answers.Â But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons â€“ about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.
We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis.Â And we can help them do that in their own small way â€“ whether itâ€™s by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.
We can teach them the value of tolerance â€“ the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us.Â We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families.Â We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.”
I worry about my children and their safety every day, as I know you do too. Â Families in Arizona have been unexpectedly faced with every family’s dreaded nightmare. Â My heart goes out to the family and friends of Â Christina Taylor Green, Representative Gabrielle Giffords and everyone whose lives were affected by the horrendous shootings last week.
In the midst of the sad aftermath of this event, my friend CC Chapman pointed me to the video below of another inspiring young girl, 8 year old Elizabeth Hughes, singing the National Anthem at a Norfolk Admirals game, just the day before the Arizona shootings. Â Her voice is as pure, proud and unwavering as one can imagine Christina Taylor Green’s would have been had she been given the opportunity to speak with Representative Giffords as she had hoped to. Â As a talented young singer, Elizabeth Hughes is inspiring to watch and hear… and when her microphone fails the crowd pitches in, reminding us that the words of our anthem still ring true, and that, as Americans, we can and will support each other no matter what.
A good thing to remember as we honor and memorialize those we have lost too soon…
Photo Credit: Â© Keith Hughes – Fotolia.com