There's no way to make everything better in Newtown, Connecticut, after last year's horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But the community took a huge step in trying to at least bring some normalcy back when an overwhelming number of people voted to tear down the school and rebuild it -- on the same site as the tragedy occurred. Thousands showed up at the meeting on Saturday to decide whether Newtown should accept $50 million in state funding to demolish and reconstruct Sandy Hook. And the number of citizens who were in favor of it proved staggering -- 4,504 voted yes, while 558 were against the project.
Last December, 20-year-old Adam Lanza committed the second deadliest mass shooting in American history when he fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, before turning the gun on himself. Since the tragedy, the young students have been attending a school in nearby Monroe, Connecticut. But many parents are saying the time has come to bring their children back home and to give them the school in their community that they deserve to have. The state grant reportedly comes with "no strings attached," as it should, and additional land will be purchased to create a beautiful new entryway.
I can understand the feelings of parents who perhaps voted "no" because they don't want their traumatized children to have to step foot anywhere near the school's site again. Or maybe they feel that, out of respect for families who experienced the worst loss of their lives, the building should be torn down and replaced by a memorial. I'm sure they would feel a lot better if the school was constructed two blocks from the site. I think these are all valid concerns and important points.
But I really respect the town's ultimate decision to rebuild on the same grounds. It sends the powerful message -- which I hope children somehow absorb and internalize -- that the violent perpetrator of this heinous crime does not have the power to permanently destroy everything this community worked so hard to make good.
How do you feel about Newtown's decision to rebuild Sandy Hook Elementary on the same site of the shooting?
Image via US Embassy Canada/Flickr