May they not be lost in vain

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Our world stopped as the shocking news filled the airwaves. It broke our collective hearts to learn that 20 little lives were snuffed out before they even began.

I sat and watched in shock to learn that 20-year-old madman Adam Lanza had massacred 20 innocent little ones and their beloved teachers in a senseless act of violence. So many lives lost and lives that will be changed forever.

As the story unfolded all I could think about was why automatic weapons are allowed to be owned by individuals; that buying these assault weapons is, in many cases, easier than getting a driver’s license. Remarkably, in Connecticut, there is a strict clearance process that the killer’s mom, Nancy, had passed. So it is the weapons and bullets that must be banned.

But sadly it’s also about the power of the National Rifle Association and its contributions to politicians and lobbying efforts that have blocked banning weapons like those used by Lanza.

Twenty children gone. We are all grieving for them, praying for their families to somehow carry on, to have the strength to survive their loss.

But we must also raise our voices.

There is yet another level of attention that must be paid: the problem of mental illness. Lanza was a terribly disturbed man. It haunted me that his disability, Asperger syndrome, which is on the Autism spectrum, had been a challenge when it came to getting help.

Perhaps as the days pass we will learn more, but I know from my own experience that having a child with developmental disabilities is a challenge every day. There is no easy course. It was a constant battle to find and keep the services that she needed.

When Lara was born there were no group homes or day or school programs for children with her needs. We had to march and picket and demand a change in the way children like Lara are given services. Our battle was won, finally, by the courts finding in our favor and forcing the hand of government to provide funding for group homes and appropriate programs. I thought we had won the war but 40 years later there are still daily battles for families in need of help for their children with special needs.

Did the frustration force the hand of the gunman?

Our president must shed more than tears, he must lead with his heart, his mind and his power. He must look at both sides of this tragedy — the assault weapons and the cutbacks in care for people who are mentally disturbed.

We are a great nation that can do great things.

Now is the time.

We must rally together and make the lost little angels a call to action. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who must live their lives with a hole in their hearts forever.

Send a letter NOW to your state legislators and federal representatives. Go to our website for their contact info and “sign” a petition demanding action on gun control now!