Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I would not wish death on anyone. 


On November 5, 2009, we were going about our daily lives…educating children at a small elementary school at Fort Hood.  It was a half-day, so for the most part our students had been dismissed, but we still had about 80 children in after-school daycare, and all of our staff and their children were still on campus.  We received the alert warning to commence lockdown procedures just after noon.  We could hear loudspeakers in the neighborhood outside as we locked down, and all of us took our positions in emergency locations.  There was a lot of confusion about what was happening…despite the lockdown there were parents trying to get into the school building to pick up their children from daycare, but we weren’t allowed to release anyone, much less answer the front door. 

Many of our staffmembers were getting updates from others outside of school who were on post, and we began to hear about a shooting. Based upon the news there was fear that the shooter was in our school neighborhood.  The hours dragged on, and plans were put in place to feed the children with us, as well as the staff.  The emergency plan worked well, and we did as we were told. We followed protocol pretty much to the letter.

Eventually we were given permission to leave, at nearly 8:00 that night.  Our students were frightened and confused, and we had a storm of anxious parents trying to get to their children.  There was a lot of hugging, anxiety, and relief as parents were reunited with their kids.  It took hours to drive off post that night, and as we arrived home the news began to reveal what had happened all afternoon while we were hiding out in our school building.

One of “our own”…a military soldier and officer…murdered 13 people in cold blood, and injured thirty more.  If you know anything about tragedy, you know that equates to thousands of individuals who were affected by the massacre.  It took a long time, it seemed, for the media to finally classify the act as terrorism.  No one who was on post that day bought the lie that it was a case of workplace violence.  This was clearly pre-meditated, and the cruel execution of innocent people created a thick cloud of anger and grief over the post.

This was a place already affected by enormous tragedy.  With over 100,000 troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, you could not ask a community to give more than they were already giving.

And yet.  We saw military families reaching out to one another as only they know how to do…offering comfort, solace, and an opportunity to share shock, bitterness, and anger over this act of violence.

The shooter’s last words were “Allahu Akbar…” which translates to “god is great…” 

I don’t want to know anything about his god.  His words are blasphemous to believers of every faith.

I think peaceful Muslims worldwide would agree that nothing about his proclamation brought glory or honor to God.  As a Christian, today I would say, “God is great…”, not because a man is going to die, but because justice was served.  The price of thirteen murders is a death sentence---it is called punishment.  While no one rejoices that a man is going to die, there is certainly a great amount of relief that a man who was found guilty through a thorough and fair legal proceeding is going to find that retribution is fatal and final. 

So be it.

The day after the shootings, most of our students came to school.  I credit their parents with this act of courage.  They could have kept their children at home to hide out for the day, but they didn’t.  They brought them back to us.  We had a safe, secure, and solid school day, and they had a chance to talk with their teachers.  We were briefed before school on how to handle the emotions and difficulties many of our kids would be carrying through the doors.  We were asked to give our children a voice, but to allow them to be innocent of the brutal details.  There were soldiers with machine guns at our school entrance, but our message to our children over and over was clear:  we’re going to take care of you. 

The murderer on post that day is no martyr.   I hope we all forget his name, his cause, his fury. 

Let’s remember every single person who gave their lives that day, and all those injured as well.  Let’s honor every person who stood in harm’s way to prevent further injury.  Let’s keep our first responders continually in our prayers.  And let’s be grateful that a jury found the shooter guilty as charged, and sentenced him to
an unmarked grave.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Time's Up....


Dr. Seuss said it best:

How did it get so late so soon?  It's night before it's afternoon.  December is here before it's June.  My goodness how the time has flewn.  

I feel the seconds ticking past us as I write.

The school year is fixing to start, and I know time will begin to slay me once again.  I am making an attitude adjustment. Time is such a gift.  I’ve always hated the expression, “killing time” as it seems so irreverent.  When there are only 24 hours in a day, why would you want to kill any of it?  Henry David Thoreau summed it up quite well:  

I want to manage my time better this school year.  Sometimes I procrastinate, and that is just a reflection of my fear or anxiety over any given task.  Sometimes I rush through things, and whatever motivated me to get it done is gone when I realize I have to do it all again. I don’t want to have to go through any “do over’s” if I can help it.  

I want to honor the time I’m given.  Nice words, but what do they really mean?

I’m going to savor the alarm clock instead of tossing it against the wall.  That will save me time buying new clocks at Wal-Mart, and it also might save me some money.  Coco Chanel warned us: 

I’m going to make my lunch the night before. If I’m cleaning up after dinner, it kind of makes sense to just pack my PBJ at the same time.  George Carlin said we ought to sleep with our clothes on so we don’t have to get dressed in the morning.  I might try that as well.

I’m going to consolidate my errands.  Instead of making a stop a day, I’ll try to get them all over at once.  Surely that’ll save me a few hours.  I’m not sure who said it, but basically it went: Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.  Good advice.

I like Ike.  He said we should never waste a minute thinking about people we don’t like.  That seems like a great way to reclaim lost moments.   If it’s good enough for Eisenhower, it should work for me as well.

Time should be well-spent.  Carl Sandburg likened time to money:  

If that’s true, then my coin’s older than your coin, and I better treasure it. 

I’ve burned up 33 minutes just pontificating about time.  


But if you have a little leftover time one day soon, you really should listen to The Last Lecture  by Randy Pausch. He really says all there needs to be said about time.  Keep a tissue handy.