Our Saddest Day: Connecticut killings should inspire a nation to change

The time has come to lower the flags again.

The sorrow over Friday’s horrendous school shooting in Connecticut is a national sorrow.

How does a society come to grips with the murder in a grade school of 27 or more people — including 18 kindergartners?

Sandy Hook Elementary is the worst such evil instance in our nation’s history. It is a bitter fact that killings in schools, workplaces and malls have become regular events in our culture.

Our deepest sympathies go to the victims, their families and friends, and the entire community of Sandy Hook Elementary and Newtown, Conn.

After Tuesday’s shootings at Clackamas Town Center Gov. John Kitzhaber had ordered all flags at public institutions statewide to be lowered immediately and flown at half-staff until sunset on Dec. 12, 2012, for the dead and injured.

Will change ever happen in our culture? Certainly it starts in each heart, and each home, but the sheer depth and breadth of gun possession rights and regulations requires a government role, and our leaders need to take action now to find true and workable ways to limit the possibility that an unhinged person, or persons, can commit murders in places such as schools or shopping malls.

Multiple killings like the ones this year in Clackamas, California, Colorado, and now in Connecticut take not only lives but also permanently disfigure the national soul.

Is some decades-old Constitutional amendment that sacrosanct?

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and their friends during this very difficult time,” said Kitzhaber on Dec. 11 of the Clackamas tragedy. “I would also like to thank the first responders and the many citizens who helped protect those at risk.”

The words are true but unfortunately repetitive.

Lower the flags again for the murdered in Newtown. Does our society need to keep them lowered until real change happens?

Is real change even possible? It is up to our elected leaders, gun manufacturers and gun rights groups, and the lobbyists who make their living defending “our right to bear arms.”

Which is more sacred: the Second Amendment or the lives of kindergartners?

The time has come to point not the finger of blame but the outstretched hand of reform.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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