The Pryor Times

December 17, 2012

The greatest American hero

Kathy Parker
Managing Editor

PRYOR — We celebrate bravery and heroism in this country. Navy Seals who eliminate a terrorist, soldiers who protect an embassy, Special Forces Units who find and kill a dictator.

These people are trained to do these jobs. They are armed not only with weapons, but with the knowledge of how to use them in a variety of situations. They have trained in all sorts of simulated scenarios.

I agree - these people are heroes. But what about an elementary school teacher?

Vicki Soto, 27 years old, was teaching first grade at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut Thursday morning.

If you have ever known any first grade teachers, you know they are a select group. They wear clothing appliquéd with school buses, school houses and school bells. They have clothing for every holiday. They speak in soft voices and don’t use curse words. They can print in beautifully blocked letters which are all exactly the same size.

Elementary school teachers bear little resemblance to warriors. But warriors are made of circumstances. Heroes are made of heart.

When a crazed gunman entered the school for the sole purpose of shooting children, Soto’s only instinct was to protect them. And while she was probably afraid, she did not hide in the closet as some other adults did.

She protected her students. She was not armed. In fact, when it came down to it, the only thing Soto had to protect the children with was her own body. That’s what she did.

She used herself to shield her students. She gave her life hoping to save children.

There has been much talk of guns and laws and what can be done to prevent these tragedies.

There’s nothing to be done. The world has some crazy people in it and they sometimes do horrific things. No one could have known Adam Lanza was planning to shoot up the school. Yes, he got guns, but if not guns, he might have used a knife as a Chinese crazy man recently did. He could have built a bomb from commercial fertilizer using instructions from the Internet. The guns did not do the terrible carnage; Lanza used guns to do the killing. The fault is with the killer.

Banning silverware will not keep people from being fat, just as banning guns will not keep crazy people from going on killing sprees.

I wish she had been armed. I wish she’d had a gunsafe in her classroom. She might be alive and so might some of the 20 children shot multiple times with high-powered rifles.

Soto gave all she had. She is the greatest American hero.