It was Tuesday afternoon, and we were driving home from the grocery store. I looked to my left, and Kaitlin was right--something was going on as police cars, ambulances, and a fire truck all sat right in front of the building.
Child hit by car?
Whatever it was, it did seem like it was big. And then Connor hollered, "Those guys look like they are in tactical formation! I wonder if someone is attacking--it would be easy to get into one of the small rooms and take over."
Of course, Kaitlin told Connor that couldn't be the case, as moms and kids were coming out of the building. And I didn't want to jump to any conclusions myself--but the way people were exiting the building had me thinking something didn't look quite right.
The next morning, after the kids headed off to school, I opened my Facebook page and saw an article. "Oh my goodness, Mike, look at this!"
Connor was right.
A 19 year old man had gone into the library and entered the room where a homeschool group was participating in chess club. He held hunting knives and hollered that he was going to kill some people. Instead, the 75 year old chess instructor got everyone out of the room and suffered cuts to his own hand as he stopped the teen. With the exception of the instructor and the assailant, no one else in the room or in the library was physically harmed.
When I picked the kids up from school, they entered the van with the words, "I know what happened at the library!"
And this is where we--as parents--have the chance to properly pour into the raising, training, and releasing our kids.
- My discussion with Kaitlin & Connor was not based on fear. Fear has no place in raising up our kids.
- Our thoughts were with the families who had directly experienced this attack, as well as for the others within the library that afternoon. Praying for others puts a good focus on our concern for them and not ourselves.
- We discussed the heroic actions of the chess instructor. Examples of selflessness are what I want my kids to remember as they become adults.
- And we talked briefly about the teen who had been intent on harming others. Gossip and hatred don't have a place in raising up my kids. But recognizing a life that is completely lost and dark? It opened up the door to mature conversation about mental health as well as what it means to live in a broken world.
But the best part of the conversation--the whole point of me even putting this into a blog--was based on a simple exchange between Connor & me that I truly think will affect his entire life:
"Mom, if I had been one of those officers, I'd have gone right in and taken care of things!" ~Connor.
"Connor, I want you to be the 75 year old man." ~Me.
You see, Connor wants to grow up and join the Armed Forces. He is "only" 13, but we have already researched a little about the National Guard, ROTC, and wondering what he could accomplish before graduating high school. More specifically, Connor has shared his desire to be a nurse within the Army or National Guard. The fact he can attend nursing school while being a part of the ROTC is exciting to him. He has plenty of time to change his mind, desire and dreams, but a few things are certain:
- Connor is an excellent shot. There is a giftedness that is revealed when he shoots clays that can't be ignored.
- Connor is agile. He can scamper rocks and swing his body to places like no one's business.
- Connor excels in math & science (the 2 reasons his mama isn't a nurse and instead wound up as an English Major).
- Connor loves helping others, and justice has always been something he seeks within situations.
But I want Connor to gain more--to transition from a child who is protected to the adult who is the protector. The adult who sees an eternal perspective to life, which opens up the richest, BIG PICTURE perspective he could ever have. And it's my job to instill that within him and help mold what is already ingrained in his makeup. Be it as a soldier, an EMT, a nurse in the Reserves, or a retired Chess Instructor.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
The initial article published about the library situation didn't give the hero's name or background--in fact, it said he was 76. But when the hero--James Vernon--was interviewed, it was revealed that he is an Army veteran. He used the knife-fight training he'd learned in the army 50 years prior to protect the children and stop the assailant.
Do you know the light that entered my thirteen year old's face when he discovered the hero, the "old man" his mom wants him to become, is an Army Veteran?
Mr. Vernon, we don't know you at all, but your actions this week did so much more than save and protect those within your care; they sparked admiration and desire within my 8th grader. And for that, I am very, very grateful.
Here is the link to the Journal Star story published about Mr. James Vernon, which you most definitely want to read: