Gianna turned her chubby little body away from my brother as quick as she could and ran (like a "drunken sailor" as my daughter would say) just as fast as her stubby feet would go - but with her head still turned towards the beast on his hands and knees behind her, she ran right into my own knees where I scooped her up like a Knight in Shining Armor and held her tight in my arms, her face buried in my neck as I turned her away from the threat. And then I whispered to her...
"Ampa will always protect you."
From then on, whenever she was in trouble, or being chased while playing or, well, whenever she was in dire straights (as far as dire goes for a toddler) I would suddenly hear her running down the hall, feet pounding the hardwood floors like a cartoon elephant, screaming, "Ampa! Protek me!" And then she would appear, her little legs pumping and her arms flailing, squealing happily as she would jump onto my lap and strangle hold my neck with glee.
"Protek me Ampa! Protek me!" And I would... with my life, then, now and always.
Fast forward a few years...
Sandy Hook has taken place and the world mourns the loss of so many innocents at the bloody hands of a madman. My nephew, Nick, a first year teacher, is sitting on the couch at my brothers house. I was curious as to what changes / precautions the school administrators had taken in the wake of such a heinous act against children. My nephews response?
I was bowled over! As he explained, though there was much informal discussion among the teachers themselves, there wasn't one meeting with administrators on the horror that had taken place at Sandy Hook or an exchange of ideas on what precautions could - or should - be taken, or what may be done in the future to help themselves to protect the children.
Nothing was done? How could that be? How does a society as a whole, shrug its shoulders, cross its fingers, say a prayer and look the other way? That makes absolutely no sense at all.
What can be done to protect the innocents at our schools? Bring in Good Men and Women willing to lay down their lives in the defense of those children. And where do you find those good people? Trust me... they are legion. They are Grandfathers and Grandmothers, Mothers and Fathers, Uncles and Aunts, Friends and Neighbors, Retired and Still Working. They run the gamut of careers... Law enforcement and military, truck drivers and teachers, farmers and CEO's. These men and women would be honored to give their time, expertise, training, hearts and yes, when the chips were down and no other way out, even their lives, to keep our children safe, sound and happy in their schools.
My father was a member of a volunteer fire department, back in the 60's and 70's. Everyone was trained for the job and each fireman would call in when they were available for a fire call. Simple. And everyone of those volunteers were ready to lay down their lives for people they didn't even know. That's what a hero is. That's what a hero does.
I am sure that within every school district you'll find more gun owners than you can shake a stick at trained with their defense weapons - who would be willing to take a voluntary four hour shift at the local school whenever they could, not costing the schools a dime. They would be there during the day when classes are in, evenings for special functions and weekends too. The guns concealed to the children, but at the ready if a psychopath with a demons voice rasping crazily in his head, attempted to do harm to those who intend no harm to anyone.
And now I ask... Why is this so repugnant to those who stand against guns? Think about your Dad and Mom, your Grandparents, your Aunts and Uncles. Don't you believe that given a gun and training, they would be a good man or woman to have walking the halls of your school? They are the parents of your friends, the family of people you know. They would protect yours and mine with their very life's blood.
They would die to save your child's life...
And what more could you possibly want? How can you be more afraid of the Good Guy with a gun and training to use that gun, than the Bad Guy with a gun and a twisted, sick, demented mind?
And now, on my vacation a few weeks ago, I dropped off my granddaughters at their elementary school on a beautiful spring day. As I pulled up, there was a line of bright yellow buses filled to the brim with kids, excited for the day ahead, children and parents walking hand in hand in the sunshine, teachers and administrators - like mother hens - making sure everyone was making their way into the school before the doors were closed and locked.
I pulled in front of the buses and told my granddaughters to exit the same side - towards the school. Gianna said quickly, as is her way, "LoveyoumissyouMMWAAA!" And blew a kiss to me while Micaela gave me a peck on the cheek and jumped out with her backpack bouncing on her shoulders, following her sister through the door. I watched in my side mirror and over my shoulder as they waved goodbye and made their way into the school under the watchful eye of the adults. And I thought...
Who will protect them today, should the Devil come to dance?