HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » Joshua Dubois: What the P...

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 12:19 PM

Joshua Dubois: What the President secretly did at Sandy Hook Elementary School | Vox Populi


Below is an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua Dubois, the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He’s recounting events that occurred Sunday, December 16, 2012 — two days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members. Dubois had gotten word the day before that the President wanted to meet with the families of the victims:

I left early to help the advance team—the hardworking folks who handle logistics for every event—set things up, and I arrived at the local high school where the meetings and memorial service would take place. We prepared seven or eight classrooms for the families of the slain children and teachers, two or three families to a classroom, placing water and tissues and snacks in each one. Honestly, we didn’t know how to prepare; it was the best we could think of.

The families came in and gathered together, room by room. Many struggled to offer a weak smile when we whispered, “The president will be here soon.” A few were visibly angry—so understandable that it barely needs to be said—and were looking for someone, anyone, to blame. Mostly they sat in silence.

I went downstairs to greet President Obama when he arrived, and I provided an overview of the situation. “Two families per classroom . . . The first is . . . and their child was . . . The second is . . . and their child was . . . We’ll tell you the rest as you go.”

The president took a deep breath and steeled himself, and went into the first classroom. And what happened next I’ll never forget.

Person after person received an engulfing hug from our commander in chief. He’d say, “Tell me about your son. . . . Tell me about your daughter,” and then hold pictures of the lost beloved as their parents described favorite foods, television shows, and the sound of their laughter. For the younger siblings of those who had passed away—many of them two, three, or four years old, too young to understand it all—the president would grab them and toss them, laughing, up into the air, and then hand them a box of White House M&M’s, which were always kept close at hand. In each room, I saw his eyes water, but he did not break.

And then the entire scene would repeat—for hours. Over and over and over again, through well over a hundred relatives of the fallen, each one equally broken, wrecked by the loss. After each classroom, we would go back into those fluorescent hallways and walk through the names of the coming families, and then the president would dive back in, like a soldier returning to a tour of duty in a worthy but wearing war. We spent what felt like a lifetime in those classrooms, and every single person received the same tender treatment. The same hugs. The same looks, directly in their eyes. The same sincere offer of support and prayer.

The staff did the preparation work, but the comfort and healing were all on President Obama. I remember worrying about the toll it was taking on him. And of course, even a president’s comfort was woefully inadequate for these families in the face of this particularly unspeakable loss. But it became some small measure of love, on a weekend when evil reigned.



From The President’s Devotional. Copyright 2013 Joshua Dubois.

11 replies, 2902 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Joshua Dubois: What the President secretly did at Sandy Hook Elementary School | Vox Populi (Original post)
Mira Dec 2015 OP
swilton Dec 2015 #1
Nitram Dec 2015 #2
murielm99 Dec 2015 #4
Orrex Dec 2015 #6
Botany Dec 2015 #7
cactusfractal Dec 2015 #8
Darb Dec 2015 #9
lostnfound Dec 2015 #10
treestar Dec 2015 #11
valerief Dec 2015 #3
TygrBright Dec 2015 #5

Response to Mira (Original post)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 01:56 PM

1. The hugs and well-wishes, prayers, etc.

 

didn't prevent further mass shootings within the past year, nor did it bring the children back. Elevating/embellishing the President's celebrity status or comparing him favorably to the latest/former Republican whose bars were set so low they were in the negatives does nothing to make me feel safer or change my opinion that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to swilton (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 02:24 PM

2. Swilton, if you think meeting with the bereaved parents and...

...talking with them about their children was a meaningless gesture, you are in for a long, lonely life.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to swilton (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 03:12 PM

4. This is an unnecessary post,

and a very nasty post for a Democratic website.

Of course, nothing surprises me here these days. This is the new DU.

I can't wait for the primaries to be over.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to swilton (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 03:22 PM

6. Maybe you could consider shitting on some other thread

Instead of rushing to grab the spotlight of first reply simply so that you can gripe about how the President's gracious handling of an unspeakable horror doesn't satisfy your hipster self-righteousness.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to swilton (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 03:23 PM

7. your post is shameful

and you should take it down

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to swilton (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 05:43 PM

8. What's the French word for shower? I forget... n/t

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to swilton (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 11:38 PM

9. That is the most inappropriate post I have ever seen on DU.

 

You are a tiny, little person deserving of much more than I can deliver on this site. Your due will come to you one day. It is a round world my distasteful little mammal.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to swilton (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 15, 2015, 09:35 AM

10. I believe in the butterfly effect. His act of kindness may have inspired them to feel less powerless

The Sandyhook families have been very active in fighting against the unreasonable power of the gun lobby. It is not unlikely that the presidents actions that they help them feel less powerless, and help them feel enough hope to be able to turn your grief into something political to change the laws. Have they succeeded yet? No. But the fact that the right wing comes up with crazy theories about Sandy probably means that the Sandyhook families are just a little too effective for the NRA's liking.

Besides which, kindness and alleviating suffering are in short supply in our political and public arena, and Obama seems well suited to the task.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to swilton (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 15, 2015, 10:49 AM

11. Not going there wouldn't do it either

We have to get Republicans out of office. Meanwhile the President is right to comfort the victims' families.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Mira (Original post)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 03:11 PM

3. But the guns are still there. nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Mira (Original post)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 03:18 PM

5. With a few rare exceptions...

...(Jimmy Carter and GW both come to mind, for polar opposite reasons) the office of President is pretty much a guarantee that you'll take lifespan-shortening physical damage from the stress of the office.

That doesn't just mean making difficult life-or-death decisions affecting others directly and immediately, nor does it mean just the many, many compromises you'll be forced to make with your own conscience and values, in order to ensure lesser evils or marginal progress.

It means being the one who stands and salutes the flag-draped coffins, the one who tours the disaster sites and sees firsthand the devastation, knowing that there are no resources in the world that can undo, and precious few to stave off the next.

And it means being a role model, 24-7, knowing that virtually every gesture and action and choice will be scrutinized in countless ways by those who hate you and everything you stand for, as well as those trying to use you to advance their own agendas.

And, sometimes, it means bringing the charisma of the office and the aura of power attached to it to do the best you can healing real hurting people, even though charisma and aura are precious little in the face of horror.

President Obama shirks none of these responsibilities.

I can respect that, even while I disagree with some of the compromises he's chosen.

sadly,
Bright

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread