Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
A brutal and horrid attack in Texas. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
It was well over 90 degrees here over the weekend, so Saturday afternoon my wife and daughter and I braved the traffic and headed to the beach.
It was crowded; I think everyone in New Jersey had the same idea. But that’s fine. We were right at the water’s edge and we had fun. Then, toward the end of the day, a young woman, early 20s, came running, frantic:
“Have you seen a little girl six years old in a yellow bathing suit and t-shirt and blue shorts and she’s missing and we’re calling the police and I’m really worried and her parents are up there …”
She trailed off and ran over to another family nearby. Same spiel:
“Have you seen a little girl six years old in a yellow bathing suit and t-shirt and blue shorts …”
I had two reactions at the same time. The first was to try to help look for the missing girl, and to think things through very logically:
If she was wearing shorts and a t-shirt that’s good, because she’s less likely to have been in the water—probably not a drowning accident.
Also, while there’s a small chance something nefarious happened, the boardwalk behind this beach is crawling with cops. It’s much more likely she’s simply gotten lost among the hundreds of families.
But my second reaction was visceral. Even if I can compartmentalize like that, it just kills me to hear of anything bad ever happening to any child—and second only to that is to imagine what it would be like to be the parent of a child who comes to harm.
I just wanted to go run and hug my daughter—and maybe this girl’s parents, too.
Now, as it turned out, things were fine. False alarm, thank God. A few minutes later someone found the girl. She’d wandered off toward a playground on the beach. Also, I never learned the 20-something woman’s relationship for sure, but I think she was simply another beachgoer trying to help.
But, I’m sharing this story today—and the brief emotional and cognitive reactions I had—because of the obscene school shooting and murders that took place in Texas yesterday afternoon.
UVALDE, Texas (AP) — An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said, in the latest gruesome moment for a country scarred by a string of massacres. The attacker was killed by law enforcement.
The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Gov. Greg Abbott said one of the two was a teacher.
The assault at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago.
I saw another report afterward that says we’re now up to 22 killed in the attack. Also, according to Education Week, this is the 27th school shooting in the United States since January 1.
Oh, and another dismal statistic: as of 2020, the leading cause of death for children in America is firearms (a stat that includes homicides, suicides, and accidents). And the FBI, which has a pretty narrow definition for mass shootings, nevertheless says they’re up 51 percent.
I had another column written for today. It had to do with raising kids, and it had a bit of a humorous undercurrent, so I decided it wouldn’t be appropriate. I’ll share it another time, probably rewritten a bit.
Beyond that, I’m at a loss for words—an inconvenient state when you write a daily newsletter. Give me a day or two and perhaps I’ll think of some.
For now, all I can think of is that visceral feeling I had at the beach: a tiny, faint sliver, I’m sure, of the pain these parents and families are feeling today. And, I can’t imagine not wanting to change something—anything—to make it less likely to happen again.
I’m skipping the Signal Boost and ratings stats today; they’ll be back tomorrow.
7 other things worth knowing today
If you’ve stayed put at your company during the Great Resignation, you’re paying a price for your loyalty. Basically, job switchers get pay bumps; those who stay put keep the same salaries (unless they demand more). (Business Insider)
Sales of new single-family homes plummeted in April as rising mortgage interest rates and skyrocketing house prices took a toll on the market. New-home sales fell 16.6 percent last month from the revised March figures, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday. Sales were down 26.9 percent from April 2021. (Politico)
Walmart withdrew a "laughably tone-deaf" Juneteenth ice cream flavor and other Juneteenth-themed products that it had promoted last week. "We received feedback that a few items caused concern for some of our customers and we sincerely apologize," a Walmart statement read. (Fortune)
The U.S. Army awarded a 97-year-old WWII veteran the medals he earned (but somehow was never issued) after 250 days of hellish combat and 78 years. (Task & Purpose)
How a couple in their early 50s with apparently normal means decided to retire and spend their lives hopping from one cruise ship to another: “By living on a cruise ship, you gain your room, you gain board, you’ve got entertainment that’s built in, you’re going to different locations. It’s hard to beat that.” (WashPost)
Back to Texas: “Mass shootings in Texas have become so common, they begin to collectively feel familiar. But each lands with fresh horror. ... And we know what comes next: Their deaths will add another scar to the psyche of this state — and kick off a routine of mourning, outrage and, ultimately, inaction.” (Texas Tribune)
There are going to be so many photos of children who perished in Texas, and of the adults. I’m going to end today’s newsletter by just sharing a few here for now. (There’s a longer thread of victims and photos—mostly little kids, plus two teachers—here.)