Commentary: Seeking peace one year after Sandy Hook tragedy


By John Krull

John Krull, publisher,

John Krull, publisher,

INDIANAPOLIS – ’Tis the season.

Commentary button in JPG - no shadowA year ago on a Friday morning, a troubled young man armed with a small arsenal entered a quiet elementary school in a small Connecticut town surrounded by woods and hills and unleashed hell.

By the time that young man had stopped shooting, 28 people were dead. He killed his mother before he went to the school, then shot 20 small children and six brave educators before killing himself. It was the second-worst mass shooting in American history.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook became a flashpoint, a symbol of much of what troubles and divides Americans.

In the aftermath of the shooting at Newtown, we Americans carried on bitter arguments about guns, about mental illness, about a culture that seems desensitized to brutality and suffering.

It was and is appropriate that we have those discussions, those quarrels. The issues we argued about were and are ones that matter.

Most likely, though, we didn’t fight just because we cared about the issues of guns or mental illness or cultural insensitivity.

At least some of the bitterness of our quarrels can be attributed to the fact that anger was easier to deal with than grief – that being able to fight gave us a sense that we could confront and maybe even control this horror.

They were just kids. And the teachers who tried to save them were just good people, the kind we’d want to have as neighbors or as friends.

A few months ago, on a trip back east, I traveled to Newtown. I stood just beyond the traffic barricades that block Sandy Hook Elementary off from the quiet neighborhood that surrounds it. I looked at the fire station right next to the school and stared at the stars on the roof.

There were 26 of them. Time, rain and snow had given the stars a dull and worn look.

I drove and walked through the town and saw stars hanging from the limbs and branches of many of the trees. Many of them, too, had grown worn and faded as the days passed and the weather worked on them.

Always, there were 26 of them.

I’m not quite sure what compelled me to go to Newtown. At least some of my motivation, I think, sprang from a hope that, if I stood on that ground, I might be able to understand what might prompt a human being, however disturbed, to do something that horrible.

To shoot children. To shoot people who just wanted to help children.

But I stood on that ground, I walked and drove through those streets, I talked to the people there and I still don’t understand it.

What I did understand was that the hurt that follows a horror like this lingers. Grief this great, this profound, pulses with every beat of the hearts of those who lost loved ones on that terrible day. Pain like this takes its time leaving, if it ever does.

It is impossible to measure the cruelty of what happened at Sandy Hook, but adding to that cruelty was the fact that it came at this time of year.

Different faith traditions celebrate this season for different reasons. For some, it is a time of rebirth. For others, atonement. For still others, reconciliation.

But at the heart of all these traditions is a desire for the same thing.


I came to Newtown on a Sunday. Church bells rang. People crowded the pews in search of solace, of understanding and maybe even of the strength to endure anguish.

As I drove away, I hoped that their prayers would be answered.

And I hoped then for them what I hope now for all of us.


Peace on earth.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students


  1. I own guns and do not advocate a “gun ban,” but the ease at which anybody can get a gun in this country is just plain stupid.

    • Easiest ways to get a gun:

      1. Steal one

      2. Buy one from someone that stole it

      3. Buy one from someone who owns it in a private transaction

      4. The legitimate and registered way

      Bad people have guns no matter what the gun laws are. The fixation of the left on passing laws they can’t enforce is just nuts.

        • That answer would be yes. Holland is a good example to follow. The two biggest reasons people get shot are likely drug deals and sex. By sex I mean crimes of passion like getting caught with someone else and anger of your BF/GF/spouse gets you shot.

        • Chicago on the other hand is an example of liberalism gone wild with blood spilling in the streets. Guns and drugs are both illegal. If you like South Chicago you should ban guns and dope.

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