Tucson Tragedy: Three Views
A Message to Christina
Tucson Shooting: Three Views
This is one of three columns discussing the tragedy that took place in Arizona last week. The other two columns are by Joyce Reehling and Chris Larsen. To read Reehling's column, click here. To read Larsen's column, click here.
In the fall of 1966, a young American took pen to paper and wrote these words:
Dear Mr. President,
I hope that the men in Vait Nam are doing well! Do they do this each day? How are you felling? I hope your felling good! I’am 7 and ½ years old! And I like you! I have not ben in the White house before but I will some time. I live in new york stat in Elmira! I want to visit you!
— One of your young Democrets, Brian Williams
In his introduction to the book “Dear Mr. President: Letters To The Oval Office From The Files of The National Archives,” Mr. Williams tells of a young boy who grew up in a family where supper was put on hold until the evening news was through.
Young Williams cried counting down with Walter Cronkite as Apollo 11 approached the lunar surface. He feared for his nation after the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He hatched “an outlandish and lofty dream of my own that I could never share with anyone until adulthood: I wanted to be one of those journalists I saw on television.” Naturally, he decided to write Lyndon Johnson.
For Williams, the American Dream came true when he was appointed anchor of the evening news on NBC.
Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old Arizonan shot dead last Saturday, will not see her American Dream, or any other hopes and aspirations, come true.
By all accounts, this was as energetic and interested a young American as was Brian Williams. Christina was a baseball player, ballet dancer, swimmer and member of her student council. Like Williams, she too wanted to make contact with government, and that’s why she went to see Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the market where she was later killed.
Christina has gone to heaven. I know this is true because where else would innocent children go when they die? No stopping, no interviews with St. Peter, just directly to God, where she will see and be comforted by him.
This was a truly horrible incident for all concerned, but when children are involved, and their lives are taken so violently, it somehow seems so much worse.
I have a hard time not thinking about Christina, and I want to talk to her and tell her it was a mistake, an accident, an unexplainable and senseless act by one who is sick. That this is not who we are as a people and that most of us are like those she knew, decent and good.
I want to tell her that those who say there is growing hate and bigotry in her country, and that this somehow contributed to her death, are sadly mistaken. As a matter of course, we do not kill those with whom we disagree.
I would admit to her that sometimes we are coarse, and we say things to each other that we shouldn’t. I would wince and say that there is also evil in the world, and sometimes that evil turns to violence and bloodshed. But you, little one, were just at the wrong place at the wrong time when someone who was sick committed a horrible act.
He is not the norm, and I hope there is no culture of hate in America. I don’t know why some say there is. Perhaps attaching blame to tragedies like yours helps them to feel better. I do not know.
But we will not wallow in bitterness. We will ignore the petty and the mean, and we will pick ourselves up from this unexplainable act of violence which took your life, and we will try to find the good.
We will pray for you, the others injured and dead, and we will celebrate the heroes in this tragedy, those who give life to these words I am struggling to find.
We will make you proud and show you despite evil in all its forms, and hobbled by our own shortcomings and frailties, we will always try to do better. We will show you what Brian Williams found. We’re a good people at heart, and live in a place where dreams can still come true.
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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