Earlier this week, I was invited to be a "celebrity server" at Lapham Elementary School's annual holiday lunch.
We dished up sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, cornbread muffins, gravy and pumpkin bars. I've done this for years and I always want to serve the dessert. Who doesn't like cake, and who doesn't like the person who gives you cake?
This is a big deal for the little kids. They bring their parents and sometimes their grandparents to their school. For maybe the first time in their young lives, their parents are guests on their own turf. I always think that someday these kids will be serving these same parents Thanksgiving dinner in their own homes. There's something special about being able to repay, even symbolically, some little bit of what your parents gave you.
For all the things I was privileged to do in my old job -- and that I'm still honored to get to do since -- this has always been among the sweetest.
So I couldn't help but think about that as I watched the horrific scenes from Newtown, Connecticut yesterday and this morning. You cannot really put the feeling of repulsion into words. President Obama did his best, but he said the most through his moist eyes and his halting phrases. There was more emotion conveyed in his silences than in his words. He spoke, he emoted, for the nation, and I was proud that he was my president.
And the president said what needs to be said right now:"We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
Over and over again, parents in Newtown and around the nation were asking variations of the same question: "When will this end?"
Two things are clear. The action to stop this insanity has to be at the national level. and it has to be strong.
Unfortunately, we will always have mentally unbalanced people around. The problem is that we give them easy access to deadly force.
Background checks aren't enough. For starters, we need to reinstate the ban on semi-automatic weapons. But the truth is that there is just no justification for the existence of handguns and semi-automatic weapons at all. These are simply human killing machines that have no place in our society. Maybe we should start by going after the ammunition for these guns, but ultimately the answer is to dramatically reduce the very existence of these weapons everywhere.
I am a hunter and a gun owner, but I also serve holiday lunch at Lapham School once a year. It shouldn't be necessary to choose (legitimate hunting rifles aren't mass killing machines), but if I had to, I'd give up the privilege of hunting for the honor of serving pumpkin bars to happy little kids in a safe school.