Sandy Hook Elementary School many never hear the screams of laughter and joy that should be associated with kids of an elementary age.
The shooting tragedy there have robbed that school and that community of the wonderful innocence that is associated with being "a kid".
The pain is felt by parents nationwide. The pain that frankly only parents can feel. But even for parents, there is no way to possibly imagine the gut wrenching level of heartache those parents who lost a child in the tragedy wil feel for the rest of their lives.
The most common question being asked is "why"? Why these children? Why this school? Why did this person choose this way to deal with his problems? Why?
Police forensics teams will do their work and give us one set of answers. Psycologists will do their work and give us their answers. The media will do its work and give us another set of answers.
But in the end the question never does have an answer. Certainly not one that will satisfy the familes who lost loved ones, the school that lost its innocence or the community that will no forever be linked the the legacy of being the home to this horrifying act.
"It's the guns" people will shout.
"It's violent video games!"
"It's the crap on TV and in the movies!"
Those responses each hold a degree of truth for everyone who utters them. But if we're honest, we know we're all trying to find answers that may never exist.
My question is, "what's different?"
Guns have been in this country since it's founding.
Human beings have been diagnosed with mental illnesses of one form or another for centuries.
Movies--including shoot'em up westerns have been around for decades.
Television is 60 years old.
Video games are 35 years old.
Mass shootings on the other hand are becoming more frequent every year. So frequent in fact that we barely blinked when a deranged gunman walked into a mall in Portland, Oregon last week.
We were becoming numb to it. Until Friday. That one hurt and hurt deeply.
So, what has changed?
Why was my elementary school the ultimate safe haven in the 60's? The doors wide open on nice days. There were no "no weapons" stickers on the windows. We were all innocent kids with parents who never had to include the phrase "mass shootings" among their list of worries for their us.
A lot. Most of it has to do with a level of genuine respect. Respect for ourselves as human beings. Respect for the opinions of others. Respect for the Golden Rule.
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
When I was a kid we watched TV shows like "Father knows Best", "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch"
Risque in those days was "Ginger" slinking around "The Professor" in a low cut dress or "Marsha Brady" imagining her driver instructor naked.
My kids can now listen to Charlie Sheen talk about having a three way on "Two and a Half Men."
Television Drama in the 60's was listening to Steve McGarrett say "book 'em Danno" on "Hawaii-Five-O"
Now my kids can watch rapper Ice T investigate sex crimes against childen on "Law and Order SVU."
Johnny Carson used to tell a few jokes about the President of the United States.
Now, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Jay Leno and the entire cast of Saturday Night Live rip the reputations of Presidents, Senators, congressman and candidates for all of those offices on a nightly basis.
Kids used to be able to wake up and watch Captain Kangaroo. Now they wake up to CBS This Morning."
My parents watched Fred and Ginger dance.
I watched "Dirty Harry" talking about "blowing heads off".
Today's movie goer sees more gore, more gratuitous violence, more sex, more end of the world scenarios and all in way-too-real 3-D computer generated high definition.
The first video game for home use was Pong. It was a crude electronic substitute for ping-pong.
Now, I can play "Call of Duty" on my 60-inch flat screen. It's an electronic substitute for a wide variety of war related killings complete with blood and guts.
For the last ten years, video game fans could play a game called "Grand Theft Auto" and have "real gangland fights" or "barbeque prostitutes with a flame thrower" as one review described it.
Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones used to sing, "Let's Spend the Night Together"
15 years later Rod Stewart sang "Tonight's the Night".
10 years later George Michael sang "I Want Your Sex".
In 2009, Britney Spears sang. If You Seek Amy". (Say it outloud)
When I was kid, Playboy featured topless women and the creative kid knew how to steal a glimpse and maybe hide it under the bed.
Today, a kid need only type the word "porn" into a google search on his lap-top and be exposed to things kids in the 60's didn't even know existed...over and over again.
Church attendance. A Gallup Poll says since weekly church attendance among Catholics has dropped from 75% to 45% since 1955. ReligousTolerance.org says 21% of Americans now attend church regularly.
Text me, tweet me, Facebook me, email me just don't talk to me. From offices to households to playgrounds, people have buds plugged into the ears while their eyes are glued to a 3 inch device that gives them all the stimulation they need without ever having to talk to another human being face to face.
Break up over text. Get fired over email me. Sext a picture one minute and have it on Facebook the next. All without feeling because there was no personal interaction involved.
The Media's coverage of the news.
In the 60's, a troubled 20-year old fighting mental illness committed suicide and no one but his neighbors knew about it.
Now, a troubled 20-year old knows if he plots a crime sinister enough and wipes out a congresswoman or a theater full of movie patrons or a class full of kindergarden children, he will go out with plenty of attention, his face on a few magazine covers, unlimited internet fame and 24 hour coverage on CNN.
And we'll all watch in horror. We'll all shake our heads and repeatedly ask "why?". We'll all vow to hug our kids tighter and treat one another better. Until we go back to our busy lives fighting off the barrage of messages that disrespect various aspects of our lives everyday.
So the answer may lie in respect. Respect for ourselves and respect for one another.