This was not the column I intended today. I had another one queued up and ready to go when the news about Uvalde hit. Uvalde … yet another place we’ve never heard of, like Parkland or Sandy Hook, whose name will forever be stained by tragedy. The rest of the world will not think of anything else about those places and names when they hear them mentioned.
For the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of sitting on an advisory committee on “gun violence” for the Kansas City Star as part of its multiyear focus on this issue. I’ve learned more about the topic than, frankly, it was comfortable to know. For instance, American has 4% of the world’s population, and 42% of the world’s guns. What more than that should I know?
While we were investing so many emotions, words and ink over which books are appropriate for our children to read in their libraries, 19 children were shot and killed. Children. My daughter teaches sixth grade, and through her, I hear her stories of life through their eyes. Fear of being murdered at school should not have to be one of those things to worry about at age 11 or 12.
I don’t have any answers today and struggle to know how to even close this. I’ll do what I normally do and borrow the well-written words of others to help me better frame my own thoughts. The poem below is from Miller Williams, a former Poet Laureate of the United States, and words I’ve shared before. It’s about children, also, and what we owe to them as a nation.
We add to our history yet another tragedy … but I know we all need hope on this Memorial Day weekend, when we honor and remember those who came before us. The fact that, on such a weekend, some families in a place called Uvalde are saying goodbye to their children challenges our attempts at hope. But we do owe them, and to those who came before us, and to our Nation, to find hope in our hearts. We must all strive to see “what our long gift to them may come to be.” How do we become the people we were meant to be? This week reminds us — we’re not there yet.
Brian Fogle is the President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
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