Skip to main content

It’s been 32 years and I thought I’d gotten past it. But one brief moment yesterday watching a breaking news story brought it all back to me. I saw a few little children exiting a school bus, wide-eyed and frightened beyond belief.  

My son is today 37 years old and 6’-3” tall, but during the Atlanta Missing & Murdered Children era he was just a 5-year old little boy, wide-eyed and frightened beyond belief. From the summer of 1979 through the spring of 1981, a minimum of 28 African American children, adolescents and adults were randomly selected and killed. It was a stressful time for all parents, but particularly black parents. Despite the difference in ages, the victims fell within the same geographic parameters of Atlanta. We didn’t know whom to trust or what areas were safe so, as a result we kept our children indoors and away from any potential harm. The two-year nightmare eventually ended, and smiles returned to the faces of the children in the area. But parents of those children have never forgotten.

Parenthood is a partnership, but as a father you take it upon yourself to be the protector. If harm is gonna grab your child you feel – no, you know – that it will have to go around you, through you or over you before it reaches your child. Every father wants to feel that he can shield his child from harm, and every child feels that he is safe and protected by his dad. The serial killings changed everything. No one was safe; no one felt protected.

Of course, you are confident you can handle it. You tell your kid that the Boogey Man that lurks in dark shadows is fantasy. The assurance eventually becomes a two-way covenant, with your brave little child assuring his dad that everything is okay. But sometimes late at night you peek into his room and you see those big beautiful eyes staring right back at you. At that instant you both cop to the charade and hug each other. And instinctively you know it will be a long night.

Yesterday, after a madman walked into a local elementary school armed with an AK-47 assault weapon and a bulky arsenal, parents, teachers and police scrambled into emergency mode. It’s no surprise that they were ready; they had 32 years of preparation. The children of 1981 now have children of their own, and they remember. The gunman had parked at the front entrance of the school, and there was a fear that the bomb-sniffing dogs had picked up the scent of explosives. So the school buses had to be parked on a side street behind the school. Police cut a hole in the fences and led the kids safely away from the scene and helped them board the buses for the short trip to a nearby Wal-Mart parking lot. The FBI was there; so was the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and local police. But the powerful agencies made it clear that they were there in support of the local police. It avoided the “Die Hard” scene where each agency wanted to see whose, eh, jurisdiction was longer. It was an organized, highly effective response.

In the final very touching scenes of children being reunited with their parents, there were very few dry eyes. – including my own. I telephoned my kid, now a grown-assed man, and I told him I love him.

Originally posted to Kenyada on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 12:46 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site