I watched the “CBS Evening News” last night. Not surprisingly, the lead story was about another shooting. But because this one involved journalists, in a small market, covering an everyday story about a worthwhile community activity, it resonated a bit more.
No, this wasn’t KXMD in Williston, N.D. Or KXMB in Bismarck. Or KXJB in Fargo. But the faces of the victims and the jobs they were performing brought back a flood of memories.
No, I didn’t know Alison Parker or Adam Ward. And I’ve never been to Virginia. But I could give you my own set of names and faces of people who probably worked just as hard and had lives and families similar to those gunned down today. I could also picture the endless live shots at forgettable places, riding with photographers with nervous excitement as we approached our daily assignment. Most of us were in our 20s, maybe just starting a family or still looking for that special someone.
I don’t think I thought of myself as invincible back then, but I certainly never considered that death might be just minutes away.
The newscast began at 5:30. There were all of those predictable words that have come to be familiar, when events like this take place. Unthinkable. Tragic. Senseless. And the descriptions of the shooter didn’t seem different either. Troubled. Disgruntled. Angry. The warnings about a video that “may be disturbing.” The biographies about the victims. The flowers and notes left outside the workplace in remembrance of those whose “lives were cut short.” The attempts to understand the mind of the assailant who did unspeakable acts similar to other unspeakable acts that we’ve seen and heard about with increasing regularity of late.
Finally, there was the sound bite with the president, expressing condolences for the victims and reiterating the need to get tougher with gun restrictions and background checks.
I looked at the clock. It was 5:37. The CBS News anchor for the evening, Jane Pauley, was turning to make eye contact with a different camera. It was time to move on to the presidential race and other news of the day. Dinner was calling. Although I didn’t feel like eating, I knew I could always turn off the television and return to the relative safety of my own little world.
Wednesday morning Alison and Adam got up early and headed out to do their jobs. Before breakfast, they were gone — and, Wednesday night, the lead story for seven minutes on the national evening news.
Sadly, they will soon become afterthoughts for most of us, statistics on an ever-growing list of human beings gone too soon.
That is, of course, unless it hits home with us someday.
I wish I had answers. But unless we all do something to end this recurring madness, that day might be sooner than you think.