As schools in Newtown reopened Tuesday, students began piling in for the first time after last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Classes however for the young children of Sandy Hook Elementary are not resuming just yet because the school that students once felt safe in remains an active crime scene. As a new facility in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut is prepped for their arrival many students, parents, teachers and Newtown residents are asking, “why?” and looking for answers and guidance from friends, family and religious leaders. Rev. TD Jakes is the pastor of Potter's House, a Dallas-based nondenominational church with 30,000 members. This morning he joins “Starting Point” to discuss how a community heals from this kind of tragedy.
Jakes says when it comes to grieving it is important to remember that, “we are unique. We’re not a monolithic society at all. People respond to emotions differently.” He adds, “For some people it would be rather difficult to utter a sound. For other people it’s rather cathartic to be able to open up to express your love and devotions and to have the final words over someone that they love.” For this reason Jakes says he tries, “not to tell people how to manage their emotions and their relationships and how they choose to commemorate and honors the persons that they deeply love.”
Jakes says, “Just because a question is raised does not mean you have to provide an answer to it. There are some things that are handed to us in life that we do not know. That we do not understand.” The Reverend goes on to say, “its better not to give an answer at all than to give one inappropriately. That’s why we have faith for those things that we can not explain.”
On the topic of forgiveness Jakes says, “Today is not the day to embark upon such a huge mission as forgiveness. Today is a day to honor the victims that were slain, to process, to commemorate them, to take out pictures to hug, to hold hands, to bring around the people that you feel secure with and reaffirm your circle of love.” He says by doing this people can sort out their feelings and plan a, “new normal because the old normal is gone.”
On Tuesday, Newtown students returned to schools marking the beginning of a new reality after last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Students at neighboring schools are receiving counseling along with teachers and administrators who are expected to discuss the tragedy with students in an age appropriate manner, according to the teachers' union. Classes for the young children of Sandy Hook are not resuming just yet, as a new school in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut is prepped for their arrival. A tragedy of this magnitude for many brings to mind other senseless acts that claimed innocent lives like the Oklahoma City bombing at the federal building downtown in 1995 that killed 168 people – 19 of them children. Frank Keating was the governor of Oklahoma when that bombing occurred. He joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss the Newtown tragedy and weigh in on the renewed gun control debate.
Keating who won national acclaim for his compassionate and professional handling of the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing says for Newtown the climb out will be long, searing and very difficult. He adds that 17 years after the bombing, “with private funds we are still putting children through college, providing counseling – particularly the first responders, firefighters and police officers and even proving medical care for the number of the badly injured.” Keating goes on to stress the importance of the community putting together a plan to address certain problems like long term counseling, particularly for the first responders who were some of the first to see the victims.
On the topic of gun control, Keating who received his first shotgun at the age of 11 says the question of whether people should, “be able to access, to purchase semiautomatic weapons with these clips, these magazines that provide for... unlimited firepower” needs to be debated and discussed. He adds, “We did once. I think we should do it again to ban those assault weapons.”
Keating says mental health, divorce, video violence and movie violence should also be topics of discussion moving forward. Reflecting on his own childhood he says, “We had guns. We went hunting after school, but none of us slaughtered out classmates.”
“Early Start” is remembering the victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School today. Principal Dawn Hochsprung will be remembered as a wonderful administrator but even more as a wonderful wife and mother. CNN’s Gary Tuchman talks with Principal Hochsprung’s family about the woman who sacrificed her life to save others.
Her husband George, who is much older than Dawn, proposed to her five times before she finally accepted. Both marrying for a second time, they joined together Dawn’s two daughters from her first marriage and George’s three daughters from his previous one. “They are a blended, but very close family with 11 grandchildren,” Tuchman says.
George says they built their dream house in the Adirondacks together. "It was going to be her house because I was gonna die, I was gonna be gone. I’m much older than Dawn," George says. “It was gonna be Dawn’s house ultimately, with all the children. All the children. And now it’s me. I can't, I don’t think I can do that.”
When George, who was teaching at the middle school at the time, found out his wife had been killed, “George raced out of school and into a nightmare,” Tuchman says. Since then, George has learned from two teachers who survived that they were having a meeting with Dawn when the shots started ringing out. “Dawn put herself in jeopardy and I have been angry about that," George says. "Until just now, today, when I met two women that she told to go into shelter while she actually confronted the gunman. And she could’ve avoided that that. And she didn’t, I knew she wouldn't. So I’m not angry anymore. I’m not angry…I’m just very sad.”
“Everyone here is so proud” of Dawn, Tuchman says. “No one more so than Erica, who said her mom was always there for her daughters.” “All of my sisters’ cheerleading stuff she was there, every dance competition. She was doing homework on the bleachers, but she was there,” Erica says. “And she was my rock. My rock.”
“And now she is a hero too,” Tuchman says.