Newtown Survivors Can’t Forget; And Neither Should We

Photo Credit to NorthEndWaterfront on FlickrJust a little over a year ago, 26 people were killed in a shooting that took place in Newtown, CT, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But more than 26 people have been damaged mentally forever. Innocence would never return to them.

Early morning on December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza with a gun at her home. He then drove the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and at 9:30 am, Lanza opened gunfire at SHES.

Lanza went inside classrooms filled with 6 and 7 year olds, killing almost all of them. Warnings that an intruder was in the school were broadcasted over the announcement system. Teachers tried to hide students in closets and bathrooms attempting to protect themselves and the children. The children and teachers were terrified, screaming and crying. The announcement system made it worse; the children could hear the gunshots being fired, and other children screaming.  In one classroom, two boys ran past Lanza and saw broken glass, their dead teachers, and dead classmates lying on the floor.

Lanza fired about 154 shots in just over 5 minutes before hearing the sirens of first responders.

At 9:40 am, the sounds of the police caused Lanza to take his own life.

The Newtown Police Department arrived at the scene, and escorted the traumatized students, teachers and parents to the fire station. The police made the survivors close their eyes and hold on to each other to avoid the sights of their deceased teachers and classmates. Later that night, the fire station became a place for parents to gather to grieve once they realized their child was gone. Many survivors and parents were in shock; the parents, trying to figure out how to console their children, and the children, having to figure out how they were going to live their lives from here on out.

In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, parent David Posey discussed how his son, who was involved in the incident, was doing. A few days after the shooting, Posey heard his son (who has not been named due to psychiatric reasons) pounding on the floor in his room. His son then told his father, “ I know where the bad guy is. I’m beating him up”.  The “bad guy” was Adam Lanza. Even though he (Lanza) was gone, he still haunted this little boy.

Posey’s son is one of the many that experiences nightmares, feelings of apprehension, and feelings of anxiety. Posey’s son is probably not any older than 7, and was put at gunpoint by a strange man. Lanza has destroyed the image of innocence for children that are just starting to learn how to write, read, and draw pictures. These children are now experiencing emotions and flashbacks that even a grown adult cannot handle.

Many parents have reported that their children have frequent nightmares, sometimes with Lanza appearing in them. Fire alarms, a clap of thunder, and the sound of an intercom can even trigger flashbacks or feelings of panic. Some of the survivors today panic when they hear intercoms or announcement speakers turn on.  Imagine what hearing another gunshot or maybe even a firework would do. Not only have children been affected, but a police officer that reported to the scene that day has been experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

All of the parents of the survivors were given $20,000 from a Newtown Charity Fund, but therapists say that this will not even begin to cover the years of therapy that the children will need to receive. Each parent that had a child die that day was given $281,000 by the same Newtown Charity Fund, even though their children have passed on. This hardly seems fair to me.

David Posey’s son is beginning to heal; he plays sports and was excited to return to school again this fall. Hujo Rojas’s son is in therapy, but like Posey’s son, he is doing better. Rojas’s son was also excited to return to school, but very apprehensive at the same time. Many other students are doing better, but like I said before, flashbacks are frequent.

Each year, as the anniversary of 12/14 passes, we gather to grieve as a nation, and to remember and honor ones that have passed. Even though this tragedy happened, we should not forget the survivors. They are the ones that need the most help; most of them still struggle. We might not know their names, but we should give them the same attention that we give the ones that have died.

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