The awful events in Newtown give us another chance to contrast the rhetoric of gun-toting imaginary heroism with the real heroism demonstrated by some of the wonderful people who’ve been lost in mass shootings in the past few years. This time, it’s the principal, school psychologist and vice-principal at Sandy Hook Elementary. When I was watching the coverage yesterday, one of the producers at CNN interviewed a parent who was at the school for a conference at the time of the shooting. As soon as the shots were fired, those three school officials, who were in the conference, went into the hall to see what they could do. All three were immediately shot, and only the vice-principal was able to crawl back into the room.
Today we can read friends, parents and former students remembrances of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal, and Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist. It sounds like the students at Sandy Hook were lucky to have both of them. The picture of Ms. Hochsprung in particular is heartbreaking–she’s so full of life and excitement.
Like Judge John Roll, or the boyfriends in Aurora, who shielded others with their bodies and were killed, these two women did what little they could do in the face of overwhelming force. They acted instinctively with the goal of protecting their students, and their reward was a brutal, quick murder. That’s how heroism works in mass shootings.