Sound Tigers Remember Sandy Hook

 

For each of the last several seasons the Bridgeport Sound Tigers have played an early November matinee promoted as ‘Cool Fun – 101’. With the generous support of People’s United Bank, which purchases thousands of tickets for the less fortunate, school children from around the area descend on the Webster Bank Arena for an 11 am game of hockey. (The success of this autumn ritual has resulted in a spring sequel dubbed ‘Spring Fun- 102’ held in early April.)

Many of the children scheduled to attend this years’ autumn offering could not attend as the entire region was dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Among those schools unable to attend were Newtown High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School, regular participants and members of the Sound Tigers extended ‘family’. Sadly, twenty young innocents and six of their teachers will never have that opportunity again.

As a tribute, the team was to wear the names of the victims on their alternate black jerseys for home games leading up to January 20 when they would be presented to the families of the victims. (Photo Credit to Dave Csordas) Plans were quickly changed when it became obvious during warm-ups that the well-intentioned gesture was just too heart wrenching.

Following is a portion of the Sound Tigers press release: (full text here)

 

 “Our entire community has suffered through the tragedy that occurred in Newtown,” Sound Tigers President, Howard Saffan said. “The emotional toll of honoring those names on the players’ backs was more than what we had initially thought for everyone involved.  It was an incredible gesture by the players to honor those lives lost. Knowing the emotional toll that comes with this gesture, we feel the best way to honor the children and teachers moving forward is by saving the alternate jerseys, which will be presented to the families and friends on January 20 when we salute the entire Newtown community.”

 

For some reason this entire event has had a profound effect on me and it is not that I have never suffered loss before. I buried my infant brother, who never made it home from the hospital, as a teenager. My father was killed in a motor vehicle accident and my mother passed after a twenty plus year battle with cancer but this is somehow different not just for me but for many.

My good friend of forty-plus years and constant companion at Sound Tigers games, Dick Kennedy is having the same trouble. Dick is a veteran of the Viet Nam War and presently serves as District Commander of our VFW, a district that includes Newtown where he recently paid his respects.

He has also seen more than his share of suffering and his position with the VFW requires him to be present at too many wakes and funerals, none more difficult than that of Victoria Soto, a resident of the Lordship section of Stratford, CT. Dick and his wife Sharon, a retired teacher, also live in Lordship as did my family in the early seventies.

It was during this time that Dick and I became friends and my sister Eileen became what they now term BFF’s with Vicki’s mom Donna (Fagan). Eileen now lives with her husband Steve and family in Anthem, AZ where a ‘Hands Across Anthem’ vigil was held for the Sandy Hook victims. She too is having trouble moving forward emotionally this holiday season wanting nothing more than to be with her high school ‘bestie’ in her time of need.

A good friend of mine, whose opinion I respect, said that we are likely suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that it would pass with time. I certainly hope it does as we are each running out of tears to shed but PTSD is not the answer.

Our nation needs better gun control laws. I am a firm believer in our nations constitution and its' second amendment giving citizens the right to bear arms, but controls are needed.

I believe our energies and resources would be better spent on mental health, the root cause of most of these tragedies. A recent article published in the Connecticut Post makes this painfully clear. Please give it a read.

I have been assured that our suffering will pass but until then Mr. Kennedy and I will sit in our seats in section 103 and remember.(Photo Credit: Dave Csordas)

May God Bless us all.

-Mike Flannery

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