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Rev. Michael Nabors: Letter to the children

Dear Uziyah, Xavier, Amerie, Jose, Alithia, Annabell, Eliahana, Eliahna, Rojelio, Jacklyn, Jailah, Jayce, Alexandria, Tess, Makenna, Maranda, Nevaeh, Maite and Layla – and Ms. Eva Mireles and Ms. Irma Garcia,

I am writing this letter to you because right now, I don’t know what else to do. I am shocked, stunned, outraged and filled with grief. Each of your lives were taken in a hail of bullets as you sat in a classroom, counting the hours before the school day ended. And counting the two days left before school ended for the summer. While I did not know any of you, or your parents, or anyone in your town, I grieve nonetheless, as if you were my own children, grandchildren, and family members.

Your death has left gaping holes in the landscape of our nation, starting with your own families. If my grief is seismic, your family’s grief simply cannot be measured. There is a hole in each of your families. They have lost a treasure, a gem, a joy that each of you brought to them. Your grandparents are grieving. Your parents are grieving. Your brothers and sisters are grieving. Your aunts and uncles are grieving. And the grief has not stopped or eased since the horror of death came far too soon for each of you. Death was not supposed to take you. This was not God’s will. It was not your destiny. It was not all part of some grand plan formed by the Creator. It was a terrible event.

A hole has also been left in your community. Robb Elementary School will never be the same. Nineteen precious students will no longer walk to or be dropped off at school in the morning. Nineteen chairs and desks will be missing each of you. The neighborhoods where you lived, the churches you attended, the playgrounds where you played, the fields where you participated in sports will no longer have nineteen little boys and girls present. The grief your community and town is experiencing is simply unfathomable. Because death was not supposed to take you. This was not God’s will. It was not your destiny. It was not part of some grand plan formed by the Creator. It was a terrible event.

A hole has been left in our nation. I desperately want to say that our country will never be the same because of the brutal horror that took each of your lives. I want to share that our president, members of the Senate and House will pledge to work together to make sure that mass shootings will stop. I want to share that governors and state officials will work hand in hand to make sure that no child will ever again be the victim of a gun. I want to share that every mayor and city council person will work together to create such a safe environment in their towns and cities, until not a single child has to worry about having a gun aimed in their direction. But I don’t have the authority to make that happen. I only have words…and a voice. Because death was not supposed to take you. This was not God’s will. It was not your destiny. It was not part of some grand plan formed by the Creator. It was a terrible event.

So I will work to use words and a voice to bring attention to our nation, that your death must not be in vain. Your departure from life must not be forgotten. You did not live the full life that you should have lived. So our country must commit every part of itself towards sharing how precious each of you were, in just 10 short years. You were honor roll students. You were saving money to go to Disney World.

You put smiles on everyone’s faces. You played Tik Tok. You wanted to be a lawyer. You were a big sister or brother. You loved baseball and video games. You received your first phone on your 10th birthday. You couldn’t wait to go to middle school. You were funny. You were full of life. You were the sweetest boys and girls.

And I failed you. We all failed you. I apologize. I’m so sorry. Though I didn’t know you, I loved you. And I will ask others to work so that we don’t fail other children in our nation. Please don’t accept my apology. Make me revel in my failure to make your safety the number one concern in our country. Make me despair, become angry, be filled with rage so fully until a strategy emerges from your deaths. A strategy that will stop the violent death of our people. If we do not stop the violence, our nation will crumble into shattered and broken pieces of what was once, a grand idea – a Beloved Community. We don’t have much time. So young people, I pray that your death will fan the flames of urgency into mutual cooperation, interwoven partnerships, bipartisan politics and hope that together, we are far greater than our disparate parts. We will find the answer. Or we are all doomed.

Rev Dr Michael Nabors
President, Evanston/North Shore NAACP
Pastor, Second Baptist Church of Evanston

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