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The Home Team / New Year's resolution: No more Sandy Hooks

Published 8:58 am, Friday, December 28, 2012
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Since I started writing "The Home Team" in 1993, I've often devoted my final column in December to New Year's resolutions. Last year, one of my promises was I will not let [my son] Robby get my goat about the Jets and Mark Sanchez. That one didn't work out so well for me. In fact, I could probably go with the same one again this year. But you get the idea: The resolution was just a goof. In fact, keeping with the general tone of this column, most of my end-of-the-year resolutions have been light-hearted jests at a time of celebration and good cheer.

But even with the holiday spirit all around, there are some things you just can't forget. Shouldn't forget.

Newtown is one of them.

My wife and I were en route to Atlanta for the weekend when news of the shocking tragedy began to unfold chaotically, in fits and starts. When we arrived, our friends, not familiar with Connecticut geography, asked, are you close to Newtown?

Do you know any of the families involved? We started getting emails and texts from friends and family across the country, with similar concerns. The common thread: Are you close to Newtown? Are you close to the Sandy Hook Elementary School? As if the question of proximity was very, very important to them.

We'd tell them, yes, we are, in fact, pretty close to Newtown. Our boys used to play Newtown teams often in basketball and football. And yes, we do know some families who were personally involved.

And while what happened in Newtown was a national tragedy, and the aftermath is a national concern, the fact that this took place just 19 miles from Westport does make it more significant to me; does make it more personal.

Our three sons are 31, 28, and 19. So for the better part of 30 years, we've had either one, two, or three boys living in our house. Last year, in fact, was the first year we were empty nesters. I remember resolving, when Robby headed off to California for his freshman year of college, that some of the energy I used to spend on raising our children I'd now invest in volunteer activities to help other kids. To that end, two Westport friends and I put together a writing-and-math enrichment workshop for seventh- and eighth-graders in a charter school in neighboring Bridgeport.

This year, I'm making a New Year's resolution to help the children of another neighboring community with their writing. I'm certain the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School have a lot to say, and the need to say it. It's important that we all hear their message.

I'd like to volunteer to work with the teachers of Newtown to help the Sandy Hook kids compile a "book" of their writings -- to tell the country what they saw, and how it affected them. To add their voices to all those who say they never want to see anything like this ever happen again.

The leader of our country told us he's making the end of mass shootings a top priority. "I'll use whatever power this office holds ... in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this," he said at a memorial service for the victims.

If that resolution is good enough for President Obama, then it's good enough for me.

"The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.