Op-Ed Sen. Chris Murphy: 'My Life Changed That Day'

Hartford Courant

I love Newtown. I love the people. I love the landscape. I love the annual Labor Day parade. I love it more now, having watched the town wrestle over the unanswerable question of what to be in the wake of unimaginable tragedy.

Newtown is different than it was before the events of Dec. 14, 2012. Of course it is. No place could ever recover from that cataclysm — 20 first-graders and six educators disappearing from the Earth in the matter of five life-shattering minutes. But there is true beauty in how this small town in western Connecticut has responded and rebounded. Today, as America marks five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, we should celebrate the miracles, big and small, of the last half-decade.

Miracles like those performed by the numerous charitable organizations started by the parents of the Sandy Hook victims. Organizations that are partnering at-risk kids with therapeutic animals, or funding research on the intersection between mental illness and violence, or teaching schoolchildren how to recognize and combat social isolation. Their work has improved and saved countless lives.

Miracles like those that happen every day in the lives of the family members left behind. The gaping, yawning holes are still there — but the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, have found a way to build meaningful lives in the wake of unimaginable loss. I have been lucky to witness firsthand this regrowth of purpose in so many families that I call friends.