As we approach the holidays this year, our emotions in West Virginia and across the nation are torn.
With love for our own children and grandchildren and joy at the thought of their excitement just around the corner, our hearts remain heavy for the families and community of Newtown, Connecticut.
The newspapers and headlines have said it all. Unspeakable. Senseless. A community turned upside down. A nation stunned.
To take the life of a child - the lives of 20 children and their dedicated teachers - is simply inconceivable. And the deep grief those parents, grandparents, siblings and classmates are feeling is hard to imagine - but West Virginians’ hearts and minds are certainly with them.
Across our state that day, parents picked up their children from school with a full embrace. Gave them an extra treat that evening. Rocked them a little longer to sleep.
West Virginia cherishes our communities - neighborhoods where we don’t lock our doors, with children at play and places, like schools, that we just trust to be safe.
So we’re shaken by the thought that such a tragedy could happen in a town just like one of ours to families just like our own. And it’s the nature of West Virginians to hurt right along with them.
As a fully brokenhearted nation grapples with what happened, we also face the very real truth that we’ve seen far too many of these tragedies in recent years.
We’ll all be searching for answers about how to prevent this from ever happening again. Because protecting our children is so sacred, so deeply important - and so needed.
But for the coming days and the holidays approaching, it’s my hope that - with our innermost thoughts and prayers still with those in Newtown - we can treasure the moments.
Sharon and I get such joy from our grandchildren. This Christmas, we’ll enjoy their laughter, their humor and their hugs even more. And that’s my wish for all West Virginians.