I sat, I read, I cried

Chris DeBack


I sat, I read, I cried



By Chris Deback





I cried as I read about the heroic acts of educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who used their last breaths on Wednesday, Feb. 14, to protect the children they educated every day.

The nation mourns the loss of 17 souls, 14 of them children, whose flames were extinguished before they even had a real chance to light their futures. However, if not for the heroic acts of many educators on that day, things could have been much worse. 

Whether an educator was shot using himself to shield other students as as Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach, or was shot attempting to relock a classroom door after letting panicked students into his classroom as geography teacher Scott Beigel was, it’s genuine acts of heroism like these that kept a horrific tragedy from claiming more innocent lives. 

While Feis’ and Beigel’s heroism have made national news, let's not forget the other countless teachers and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who followed protocol and training during the shooting to put the school on lockdown. Their actions saved many lives that afternoon. 

It is stories such as these that need to be celebrated over the next few years as the trial of suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student who had been recently expelled, undoubtedly plays out on the national stage. 

School shootings have become all too commonplace in our society today. Already the second school shooting of 2018, the first killed two and injured 16 others on Jan. 23 in Benton, Ky. That is simply two too many. 

Any time there’s a school shooting, it hits especially close to home for me, as my wife, Megan, is a high school Spanish teacher at South Winneshiek High School in Calmar. Don’t be mistaken, this type of tragic event can happen even here in small-town Iowa. Parkland had recently been named by the website Neighborhoodscout as the 15th-safest place to live. The residents who sent their 3,100 high school children off to school that day weren’t expecting the massacre that occurred. 

While West Union and the surrounding area are generally safe places to live, complacency can become our worst enemy. Evil strikes when you least expect it, and it's our duty as citizens to be on guard. See something, say something. Nikolas Cruz put out many warning signs, some of which the FBI was aware of, including a disturbing YouTube video from September 2017; however, the organization said it couldn’t positively identify him as the person in the video. According to the family with whom he lived after the November 2017 death of his mother, Cruz also suffered from depression. 

While some students think their teachers don’t care about them, the overwhelming majority do take a sincere interest in their students’ well-being and future success. They truly do care about the students; some may just show it in a more subtle way. 

As you send your children off to school today, be sure to hug them for an extra few seconds. Remember that your children’s educators not only care for your children, but they care about them as well. They are trained to protect your children, often risking their own safety. But as we’ve seen time and time again, that’s what teachers do. 



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