Extraordinary Stories

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

The "Still Healing From 'The Happening'" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Looking at the full page "Remembrance" that my local newspaper placed on the back of the front section of the newspaper.  A misty white heaven overlooking five young trees along a quiet pathway near where the West Nickel Mines Amish one-room schoolhouse stood at one time.  
It has been ten years since Lancaster County felt the fear of terrorism that fall day in 2006.  On that fateful day in October a deranged Charles Carl Roberts IV entered the Amish one-room schoolhouse and shot 10 little Amish girls, killing half of them and then taking his own life.  Shortly the school was torn down, five trees were planted as a memorial to those murdered and a new school, called "The New Hope School" was erected.  The Amish community now refers to that fateful day as "The Happening".  Today's newspaper devoted page after page of heart-breaking as well as heart-warming stories and devoting a full page with Oct. 2, 2006 in bold and Remembering Nickel Mines under it.  Thank you Lancaster Newspapers for such a stirring remembrance of perhaps the worst event in Lancaster's history.  Their lead story told of Marie Roberts, the wife of the shooter, who looked out the window in her parents' home and saw a group of Amish men walking toward the house.  She feared what they would do until her father went outside to face them and found they had arrived because they were concerned about her and her children.  They wanted her to know that they had forgiven her husband and were extending grace and compassion to her family.  Another story dealt with Terri Roberts, the shooter's mother and how she has had to cope with the experience.  Tells how she has taken one young Amish girl who has survived, but with severe injuries, and treated her as if she were one of her own children.  Very sad story which was tough to read, let alone write.  Another story tells of the five survivors and their physical and mental conditions ten years after the slaughter.  One story tells how one of the first responders has dealt with the aftermath of the horrendous massacre while yet another story tells of the guilt still felt by one young Amish boy who was in the school at the time and feels he should have done something to help the young girls.  
The fateful one-room school house before being demolished.
The majority of the newspaper coverage deals with how Marie Roberts, now remarried and known as Marie Monville, is handling issues such as forgiveness, faith and a remarkable kinship she has developed with the families of those killed on that awful day.  The Amish community is extremely forgiving and rely on their faith in God to help them heal.  Suzanne Cassidy, editor of the Lancaster newspaper's Opinion Page, tells of the challenges that face everyone associated with this terrible tragedy and how some will never be the same.  The family who lost two young girls, one 7 and one eight; the words found in Matthew's Gospel that help healing; the book written by the shooter's wife; and the yearly published stories that will never end.  I commend Suzanne and Lancaster's LNP Always Lancaster newsaper and its staff for so many interesting, yet heart-wrenching and disturbing stories that were included today reminding everyone how this one event has affected and touched so many people in the Lancaster community.  Here's hoping it will never happen again.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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