This morning I watched an interview with George Hochsprung, the husband of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
Dawn Hochsprung was the first fatality identified on Friday in the Newtown Connecticut massacre. According to reports, it was 9:30 a.m. and Hochsprung was in a meeting when she heard what sounded like gunfire. She told the others in the room to lock the door and take cover. Then she and Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist, ran out to confront the unknown. According to reports, Hochsprung lunged at Adam Lanza , the gunman.
She and Sherlach were killed by him.
During the interview, a still very shocked George Hochsprung spoke with raw honesty. He admitted he spent the weekend angry at his wife for putting herself in danger. He said when he finally spoke to the others who were in the meeting that fateful morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he learned his wife had saved their lives. The anger evaporated and he was left with a deep sadness.
This year we have been slammed by atrocities. A few weeks ago, there was a horrible image on the front page of the NY Post. It was of a man struggling to pull himself off the subway tracks where he'd just been pushed. Doomed, read the caption. The man was killed by a train a few seconds after the photo had been snapped.
Where were the heroes? There were people at the station. There was the photographer who perhaps could have raced to the edge of the platform and hoisted the man up to safety instead of snapping some sensational photos of impending death. Why didn't anyone help? How could this happen? I felt sickened by this image of a helpless man about to die because no one did anything to save him.
Doomed seemed like an accurate caption. If a man can be crushed to his death while others watched, we surely are doomed.
It is the end of the year. It is the time when the media loves lists: the best movies of the year, the worst, the divorces, the marriage, the celebrity deaths, celebrity births, the biggest hits, the biggest flops, the best gowns, the worst gowns, etc., etc, etc. The list of lists is endless.
Then there is a list of some of the atrocities of 2012: A gunman killing children. A gunman killing movie goers. A gun man killing worshippers at a temple. A captain abandoning a sinking ship while 32 people perished. A Queens man pushed onto the Times Square subway tracks while others watched.
This list is endless. This list is overwhelming.
This list fills me with a sense of hopelessness.
And then there is Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach. They forgot about themselves, their safety, their lives. They thought only about others and paid the ultimate sacrifice. They are the definition of selfless.They are the opposite of that photographer snapping away at a man desperately struggling to lift himself out of harm's way.
They remind us that there are still people who will pull someone off the subway tracks, who will stay on a sinking ship, who will protect our children from evil.
They are the hope in Pandora's box. They are all that is right with the world.
And because of them we are not as doomed as we lately believe we are.