Uvalde (2)

Here is the prior post on Uvalde.  There have been 15 comments to this post.

Upcoming: Memorial Day, Monday May 30, Vets for Peace MN chapter 27 will renew its annual observance of Memorial Day at the Vietnam Memorial on the State Capitol Grounds at 10:30 a.m.  Here are details.   I have participated in this observance for years.  It is always meaning-filled.

I recently watched two excellent 2021 PBS programs entitled American Veterans.  They are available on Amazon Prime.  In my opinion, very well worth your time.

The World Is My Country, the film about World Citizen Garry Davis, is airing several times on Link TV beginning June 1.  Details here.  I highly recommend this film.

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The news Friday about Uvalde was mostly about who to blame.  As is usual, the instrument committing the carnage – the weapon, in this case an AR-15 style weapon – seems only in the background noise.  Guns and ammo don’t create or use themselves….  The ball is in OUR court – each and every one of us.

A quote from Heather Cox Richardsons Letters from an American for May 26 leads this post: “In 2004, a ten-year federal ban on assault weapons expired, and since then. mass shootings have tripled. Zusha Elinson, who is writing a history of the bestselling AR-15 military style weapon used in many mass shootings, notes that there were about 400,000 AR-15 style rifles in America before the assault weapons ban went into effect in 1994. Today, there are 20 million.”  [emphasis added]

400,000 to 20 million in less than 30 years….

This morning I pulled in the parking lot of the nearby elementary school about a mile from here.

May 27, 2020, at a Woodbury Elementary School

Today seems to mostly have been a day of blaming somebody for what happened this week.  The man who pulled the trigger is dead, so not much is said about his cause in the matter.  His powerful partners, the AR-15 and its ammunition, seem to have evaporated as co-perpetrators.

I think to myself, what if, WHAT IF, everything about May 24 in Uvalde had been exactly the same EXCEPT that the evil-doer had nothing other than his anger as a weapon.

Would there be 22 dead, one of which was him, today?

Even David, against Goliath, got lucky.  The AR-15 is a deadly weapon, here used against defenseless young people.

Truth be told, the State of Texas facilitated the murders at Robb Elementary, and the arms industry profited from it.

There is so much I want to say.

In yesterdays post I said I was in the Army 60 years ago.  I was in an infantry company.  It was there I got accustomed to ‘long guns’.  The long gun in those days was the M-1, really a WWII vintage weapon.

We all had a weapon, and we all lived communally, and we learned gun use and gun safety together (I qualified as expert, without any prior experience).

I didn’t pay attention at the time, but every day we were on base the un-loaded weapons were secured and locked together.  It was prudent – there were perhaps 20 of us on a floor, living in the same large barracks room, and we were not always of like minds and temperaments.

Weapons were an essential for a soldier; none of this business of absolute right to purchase, carry around and use without training and responsibility.

The Uvalde killer is out of his misery.

It is the rest of us that have to deal with the aftermath.

And until we figure out that deadly weapons have no place in a civil society, there will be one incident after another….

POSTNOTE: Enroute to an annual dinner with teacher leaders in suburban Minneapolis this week, I kept thinking back to the first annual meeting of the group, in 1999, at which I was the invited speaker.  The event has since become an annual one.

In 1999, the event was held on my birthday in early May.  A few days earlier I had been at Littleton Colorado, with my son and family, walking up ‘cross hill’ above Columbine High School recognizing those who had died.  (There had been two other crosses, for the killers, but they had been removed, and that issue was and still is controversial.)

So, when I spoke that evening, I was speaking from a very fresh memory, shared in one way or another by everyone in the room.  Indeed, I wore the same clothes I had worn as we walked to the improvised shrine atop a pile of dirt overlooking the high school.

It was a rainy day, I recall.

What I felt, then, was doubtless like those at Uvalde and all the other places where well-armed killers took out strangers to themselves, but not to others.

Today, I think also of 9-11-01 whose details are in all of our brains, indelibly.  What I think about is the alternative reality surrounding that event, which was the impetus, the springboard,  for wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and in effect Muslims generally.  President Biden finally extricated us from near 20 years of expensive, deadly and unproductive wars…and the thanks he got from too many was criticism.

When will we ever learn?

I work for sanity in regulating the possession and use of deadly weapons.  Failing that our society is in deep trouble.

COMMENTS: 

Heather Cox Richardson‘s blog May 27, here.

Carol sends this along, she isn’t certain of the source, though the writing seems consistent with a Texas blogger named Sean Dietrich.  Nonetheless, this speaks for itself:

An old woman who shall remain anonymous arrived in Uvalde, Texas, early this morning, driving a 2009 Ford with high mileage and bad tires. She had a backseat full of flowers. She drove a long way.

The woman placed flowers on the crosses recently erected in memory of the 21 killed in the Robb Elementary shooting. She came all the way from Pittsburgh to be here.

“It was about 1,530 miles,” she wrote to me.

When I asked why she traveled this far, she answered, “I want to help.”

Meantime, other helpers invaded Uvalde. The first ones came in the form of dogs. That’s right. Canines.

Lutheran Church Charities sent emotional support dogs to Uvalde, to help those undergoing trauma. The animals are trained to bring comfort in crises and have been present in the aftermath of many mass shootings.

Such as Sandy Hook in 2012. A dog named Howe was at a community center only days after the shooting in Sandy Hook. Immediately, a little boy curled up next to Howe and whispered into the dog’s ear. People standing nearby were weeping when they saw this. They said it was the first time in four days the boy had spoken.

And he spoke to a dog.

Eight of the LCC’s golden retrievers were dispatched to Uvalde County. They are Cubby and Devorah, Miriam, Abner, Elijah, Gabriel, Joy and Triton.

While the dogs were busy lending their support, a woman I will call Angie, a nurse, former paramedic, and soldier, sent me an email:

“Yesterday, I wanted to drive to Uvalde and do something, but there really isn’t a job for an arthritic lady like me. So I ordered a bunch of pizzas and had them delivered to the Uvalde Police Department. I hope first responders at least nibbled on something.”

At the same time, across town, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center set up a blood drive in Uvalde. Texans came out of the wallpaper to donate.

The lines outside donation centers were hours long. On an average day, the blood center doesn’t collect enough blood to say grace over. By yesterday morning, 1,500 people across Texas had donated blood.

One man drove three hours from Austin. Another older couple drove from Oklahoma City. A man named Pete drove 65 miles to give blood in Uvalde. Pete’s granddaughter survived the school shooting.

“It’s the least we can do,” said Pete. “Provide a little service for somebody.”

Meanwhile, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team deployed helpers who were on the scene two hours after the shooting. The chaplains were even asked to deliver death notices to some of the victims’ families along with law-enforcement officials.

“As a father of four young children, my heart is heavy…” said Josh Holland, team director. “We are sending our crisis-trained chaplains to comfort people, listen, and cry with them, and share God’s love…”

There are hundreds more helpers are inundating the city like veritable tidal wave. Kroger donated $300,000 toward food. San Antonio grocery chain H-E-B is donating $500,000 to the community, administering meals and supplies.

Average Joes and Josephines are showing up with barbecue trailers and coolers, donating food to the community.

Throngs of ordinary people around the nation are calling area restaurants and offering to pay for meals for victims’ families and first responders.

Said Rosemary Flores, owner of Sunrise Restaurant, “People are calling from Idaho, Ohio, Wisconsin, and even Canada. I don’t know how they got my number, but it’s okay.”

Something else. Funeral homes in the community are offering to lay the victims to rest at no cost. The Hillcrest Funeral Home and the Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary are waiving funeral fees.

The average American funeral costs around $8,000. For the mom-and-pop funeral homes, this donation adds up to about $170,000 in combined funeral fees.

Moreover, this offer comes amidst a crisis of funeral supplies issues in Uvalde. This is a small town, funeral homes don’t have inventory for mass burials. In an average year, local funeral homes handle maybe six or seven funerals for children. So mortuaries from other communities have offered to help.

“We have gotten calls from other funeral homes offering their assistance,” said Monica Saiz-Martinez, who works for Hillcrest. “The love and support from all over is healing and helpful in so many ways right now. It is just unbelievable.”

There are more stories like these. Too many to tell. So I’ll close here by telling you about a guy named Fred McFeely Rogers. A man who once said this:

“My mother always said, ‘Look for the helpers.’ There will always be helpers, on the sidelines. That’s why I think, if news programs could make a conscious effort of showing rescue teams, of showing medical people, or anybody who is coming into a place where there’s a tragedy, be sure they include that. Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”

And right now, I desperately need to believe there is.

COMMENTS:

from Rick: These messages have been very comforting and spot on!

The Texas Governor and legislature have been very aggressive in promoting access to guns…for Everybody…but zero efforts to promote access to mental health care.

The really sad part is that they’ll probably get re-elected! And, we wonder why this madness continues!

from Jeff: My takeaway as to Uvalde, it seems a good thing that the “good guy with a gun” premise is being plowed under by the 78 minutes the murderer was allowed in the school while masses of various law enforcement groups acted a bit like Keystone Cops (I hate to use that but it seems apt that the indecision and lack of clear communication was astounding)….the current premise left beyond simple 2nd Amendment liberty uber alles, is that the shooter(s) are “evil” or mentally ill and we need to do more about this. Of course the USA has no monopoly on mental illness, nor evil….we all know what the difference is here compared to our peers.

I noted to someone else that our direct peers : UK, Australia, NZ, and Canada (english speaking former British colonies) all did something significant when faced with severe multiple death gun violence…..notably they are all also parliamentary governments, where even a thin majority has the ability to make legislation.  we are a de facto minority controlled government now at the Federal and many state levels. bespoken to money from PACs, billionaires, and organizations and political parties that thrive on money and power.   The United in our name is broken…the trend with the SCOTUS and the GOP is a return to pre 1865 governance. tis a pity.
from Carol, from Houston Chronicle: “Three days after a teenager slaughtered 19 fourth-graders and two teachers in a little Texas town … the loyal people of the gun are coming to Houston. … No organization in America has done more to delude Americans that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of gun rights is so rigidly absolute that even the most common-sense gun rules — such as licenses and basic training — are verboten … The organization is practiced at gathering in the shadow of tragedy … what to expect: a cavalcade of craven politicians, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and others who will declare their servile obedience to NRA and its distorted view of the Second Amendment. None will speak truth to power at this anguished moment for fear of being Oliver-Twisted when it comes time to hold out their beggar’s bowls. (‘Please, sir. . . .’) … we can expect to see attendees strolling through a massive exhibit space — “over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear” — where they’ll stroke and fondle finely tuned machines … the NRA has helped create a death-dealing culture that has no counterpart anywhere else in the world … We hope our visitors have an opportunity … to interact with everyday Houstonians who are likely to have questions and strong opinions about an organization that has thwarted every effort to stop the plague of gun violence in this country, even as Americans young and old continue to die. Our visitors might be surprised by what they hear.” – Houston Chronicle, 27May2022)
from David, two charts from New York Times:
Postnote Sunday, May 29, 2022: At Church this morning, the visiting Priest, Father B, gave an excellent homily with what came to me as being about our cause in the matter of, as he said, “Weapons of War” killing people in Buffalo, Uvalde and Ukraine.
Today is Ascension Sunday in the Catholic Church (Luke 24:46-53).  The Priest, in his homily, offered an African parable of two villages, both known for making outstanding chairs.
In one, the craftsman held his skills to himself; in the other, the others were taught the skills.  You know who succeeded.
He emphasized one phrase in the first reading from Acts 1:1-11 “why are you standing there looking up at the sky?”  His interpretation to all of us seemed to be, you – all of us – must not wait for somebody else to be the leader; each of us share the responsibility….  This is the only recipe for success, long term.  All of us sharing the load, not waiting for the leader or the magic formula.
May 29, 2022
from Frank: Thank you. You are truly both a child of God (*Who is Love!) and a stalwart man!!!!
from John:  WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Background checks should be passed—but there is no reason for anyone other than law enforcement or the military to
have access to assault rifles, bullet-proof vests, or even handguns.  Most hunters can get along fine with a 3 shot magazine unless they’re hunting grizzly bears in which case they should have a partner.   We must elect more Democrats – our Republican reps and senators don’t seem to “get it.”
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