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December 15th, 2012
07:39 AM ET

Letters to the President #1426: 'The day after the shootings'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every day. Even on terribly sad days like this one.

Dear Mr. President,

As you may well imagine, like millions of other Americans I am spending a good portion of this weekend contemplating the horrors that were visited upon that school in Connecticut. Through more than 30 years of news reporting, I have always been amazed that one person can so quickly bring such suffering and sorrow to so many families. I suppose amazed is not the right word. Appalled is better.

Yesterday, when all of our coverage quieted down for the evening, I went onto Sandy Hook Elementary’s website and looked at what that school was like just a few days ago. There were pictures of kids and teachers in bright classrooms, some sort of celebration in the hallway, a concert with the gym packed full of children, and smiling participants in what looked like a science project. There were notices about special activities and holidays; inspirational notes about building character.

Simply put, it looked like the kind of place any parents would we happy for their children to attend. And now, of course, it is something quite different.

Having lived within a few miles of Columbine when those horrible shootings occurred, I know firsthand that an event like this can ripple for years. Some of the children in that school will move past these events as well as one could ever hope, but others will suffer lifetimes of fear and bad memories. Some families will rally to help each other struggle through the pain, but others may be wracked by depression, anger, and inexplicable disagreements that may drive them to split up. Some good teachers may want to be back on the job at the soonest possible date, while others may never step into a classroom again. And even some people who simply live near the event…who were not directly affected at all…may wrestle for a very long time with anxiety and grief.

There is so much sadness in an event like this; the terror and loss on the day itself, the crushing heartbreak of the immediate days that follow, and then the awful reverberations that may be with some people for the rest of their lives.

All we can do as a nation, I suppose, is offer our support, prayers, and hopes for better times. But I wish what we could do is turn back the clock just a few of days, and somehow avert this calamity that will affect so many for so very long.

Regards,
Tom

December 15th, 2012
02:26 AM ET

Principal's friend: 'The kids loved her'

The principal and psychologist were among those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Anderson Cooper pays tribute to their work.

December 15th, 2012
02:24 AM ET

Trauma for school massacre survivors

Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how the kids who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting could experience PTSD.