When the sirens went off we were always startled,
we wee ones, just first, second and third graders in
our wing of the old school (it was old even then, decades ago).
I knew I didn’t fully grasp the nature of what we called a drill.
The only context for air raid exercises was the can of insecticide
my parents kept under the kitchen sink. Raid. Raid – sprayed in the air and I could watch the bugs fall.
Twitch. Argue. Flail toward something other than their end.
And then, they were dead.
This is what I related to air raid drills.
In such a event, I felt silly going on a table or lining the
puke green oil painted walls, dirty brown molding and olive
green lockers with our backs. How would our arms locked
over our bent heads protect us from inhaling that dreadful spray?
It seemed futile, to me then and ever so much more now.
What protects a child from an air raid?
Perhaps parents weep as they ask the same question
about the campus shooting in Seattle. Today. Minutes ago.
Like my childhood, these students have drills. Their drills
address a more modern menace than an “A” bomb. Random,
angry gun propelled violence. There are drills that keep those
students more calm than they might otherwise have been – but
it is only the unique heroism of a few individuals that saved
lives today. No hiding under a table or putting one’s arms
over their bent head could have shielded them from the raid
of this bullet on their life. Only quick thinking bravery stayed
the trigger finger of today’s assassin. I would like less of them,
lass assassins, less angry gun news and more heroes. Alive.
Alive heroes able to save cats from trees, dogs from wells, and
not to worry about their fellow students and having to protect
their lives. I confess this wish comes to my lips as a whimper.
I will be angry about the extraordinary availability of guns tomorrow.
Today I’m weeping for the losses at Seattle Pacific University.