Nearly every day since Thanksgiving, The Rolla Daily News has run a story a day highlighting the Spirit of the Season — a series of photos and stories showing the good that happens in our community around the Christmas season. Tens of thousands of dollars have been given to those in need. Gifts have been given to others anonymously. People all around town have opened their hearts and their wallets to help shine a little bit of light on someone else's Christmas.
I have done this series every year at various newspapers I have worked with. It is heart warming and uplifting not only to the readers, but to us in the newsroom as well. In a business where we often find ourselves surrounded by negativity, every year I look forward to the month in December when I can focus on the good.
Thursday evening I spent a very enjoyable hour getting a private tour of the Lioness Club Christmas Light Display at Lions Club Park. As some of the finishing touches were put on the beautiful displays, I was told stories behind some of the scenes, and many of the most popular attractions were pointed out.
Friday I sat down to write down the story when a news alert popped up on my computer. There had been a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Several were dead.
The numbers kept climbing until, by 3:30 p.m., the death toll had reached an unthinkable 28. Twenty of them innocent children.
It is very difficult to write a story focusing on Christmas cheer when there is so much heartbreak happening in a state I once called home.
I sat at my desk fighting back tears as visions passed through my head of 20 sets of presents, neatly wrapped under Christmas trees, that would never be opened. Of parents, who sent their children off to what should have been just another day of school, not knowing their lives would forever changed. Many other somber thoughts for what should be the happiest and most blessed time of the year raced through my head.
As many of us did, I opened my Facebook page to make a post of support for those going through hell in Connecticut.
The first post I saw shocked and disgusted me.
A post blaming the NRA, the 2nd Amendment and gun and bullet manufacturers for this terrible tragedy. However, not one word of blame fell on the only person responsible. The person who pulled the trigger.
The gunshots had barely stopped echoing in the halls of the elementary school and people were already playing the same blame game that happens every time one of these senseless acts occurs.
There is a time and a place for the volatile discussion over gun violence. This is not that time.
This is a time when we should be banding together, thinking about and praying for the victims of this tragedy in Connecticut, not arguing.
Events like these make many people, including myself question our faith in humanity.
A lot of love and joy was cruelly taken from the world Friday. A lot of lives were lost too soon. There is nothing any of us can do about that, but we are not helpless.
We can continue to live in the spirit of the season. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Give your children an extra big hug next time you see them. Be charitable to others. A lot of small actions can go a long way in restoring our faith.
Lynn Brennan is the editor of the Rolla Daily News and be reached at