By Keno Sultan
MASSILLON—It was on a Friday night that this writer was returning home from running errands. Seeing my mother in tears, what was on the television screen was about to drive a stake not just in my beating heart but the beating hearts of everyone who was witnessing a devastating occurrence.
You would think that a Friday is the day before the weekend that kids get a chance to anticipate coming home to their parents after a long day of school, getting together for a family night, watching Saturday morning cartoons, and all other amenities that come in anticipation before the weekend.
However, on Friday, December 14th, that all changed in a massively horrifying scene. 26 people, 20 of them children had their lives viciously stripped away from them by the actions of one heartless individual. Adam Peter Lanza, a 20-year-old male brought to an end the lives of young children and six adults in a barrage of life-ending bullets before terminating his own life.
Tuesday night inside the confines of Massillon Washington High School, a basketball game was being played between the host Tigers and the visiting Youngstown Ursuline Irish. Before the contest, a moment of silence was announced to remember the lives of those that were prematurely ended on the account of a perpetrator who was devoid of compassion and no conscience of the action he intended to commit.
Sometimes, we as persons can only wonder what possesses an individual to end lives. 10th year Ursuline head coach Keith Gunther fought back emotions after his team's 16-point loss to Massillon. But when it arrived to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he no longer could contain his emotions as the ultra-aggressive Irish coach who holds every player accountable for their on-the-court transgressions whether it be flagrant turnovers or otherwise came to tears. It was bad enough to lose to Massillon but 26 kids that will never experience adulthood was more important to him.
“My first thought when that happened was how could someone do that to those little kids. How could someone kill 26 people and 20 of those being kids,” he said between pauses to dab his eyes, his voice cracking. “There are times I think about what is going on during a basketball game but you have to put this in perspective. There are important things like this going on than losses. You have to be there for your kids to hug them and tell them that you love them because this is happening too much.”
The tears did not just stop there also. Gunther also attested that Ursuline High School also had a moment of silence for the 26 victims of the deadly assault.
“You want to see your kids come back to their families because tomorrow is never promised to anyone, he said. “There is a lot to be learned from the events of what happened this past Friday. To put that in perspective, we had one of our players who lost his father at 46 and we tried not to get him to play but he opted to because his dad would have wanted him to.”
In life we have all experienced our share of personal troubles. But at the end of the day, we are all citizens of the United States and we are expected to abide by the laws of our land. Mr. Lanza did not conduct himself like a citizen and you can't call a person of his stature a citizen. A citizen does not abruptly end lives.
There are times that the author of this commentary has had personal troubles in the form of bad days. But he didn't feel the need to take it out on small kids. Kids should bring a sense of normalcy to our hearts. These are young boys and girls that are enjoying the early rudiments of life. These are adolescents that are full of vitality and eagerness.
It is no surprise that numerous individuals were relegated to tears around the world when the coverage of the Connecticut school shooting was televised.
In his 23 years as a head basketball coach, Taylor has seen young kids have aspirations for adulthood. He has witnessed young kids eventually grow to play for him and go on to prosper in life. When asked about his feelings toward the gunman who spared our justice system the time of potentially convicting him in a trial by taking his own life, the second-year Massillon head coach did not pull any punches.
It's OK to cry as in the case of Gunther. But then again, it's OK to be blunt and forceful as Taylor showed by the look in his eyes.
“First, why did this happen? Here is a man (Lanza) that is pure evil. He's evil. Evil is evil. We have to protect our kids and be there for them because this is happening too much,” he said. “God bless those kids at Sandy Hook and our families and their families.”
Taylor will be the first to tell anyone that too much mistreatment is going on when it comes to kids. Whether it is guns ending up in schools, bullying, or any other form of disrespect, school is to be a place for kids to make new friends and erect the building blocks for the future through qualified educators.
Whereas parents and families around the world will be opening up their presents on December 25th, there are kids from Sandy Hook that had the excitement of that taken away from them by an adult male who knew what he was doing and why he wanted to do it. Using that mental illness claim is a cop out. There are people that have mental illnesses but are still cognizant to know that killing is not right.
Taylor urged anyone if there is a problem within any school and not just Massillon Washington to report it immediately.
“If you see a problem, you have a right to speak up and make it right,” he said. “We all need to be there for each other and lean on each other for support.”
Tuesday night, a basketball game was played between two high schools. But not before there was a moment of silence to remember the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. There were tears and heads bowed. There was a vigilant remembrance.
We all need to hug and kiss our children, our friends, our relatives and tell them how much we love them because we do not know if we will ever see them again after they go to their destination. We can only pray and hope we see them after they return from their destination and that is what the events of December 14th should teach us all.
Season's greetings to everyone and please keep the 26 victims of Sandy Hook in your hearts. Let's remember them while we are with our families as well.