The TV cameras are mostly gone now; the short attention span of the world is directed elsewhere. Local School # 1 in Beslan, southern Russia, stands torn and silent, a memorial to the terrorist attack last year. In the midst of the wreaths, stuffed animals, and wilting flowers that have joined the rubble is a poster from 7th graders at a middle school in western North Carolina. “You are not alone,” it reads. “Your loved ones will not be forgotten.” The message from my daughter's students sits among the debris of tragedy, doing what it can to help the survivors make it through another day.
Early last September the world watched in horror at a terriorist act aimed at children. More than 1,300 hostages were taken at during their traditional “Welcome to School” ceremony. Hundreds of young children spent over two days without water and food in an overcrowded hot gymnasium, wired with explosives. They witnessed the beatings and murders of family members, friends and teachers. After one of many bombs surrounding the hostages detonated, a series of explosions and a firefight followed. Fire and the collapse of the roof completed the devastation. After the smoke cleared three days later 344 were dead, mostly children, with an equal number wounded, many severely. These are the official numbers, the actual number may be much higher.
My daughter, who had only a few days earlier begun teaching students of the same age as those killed, was outraged, hurt, and determined to do something positive. She quickly found someone to make the poster and someone who could write a message in Russian. Her students completed the poster with their best wishes and signatures. Finally she found someone who might be able to deliver it.
This month the Ashville Citizen-Times published two followup stories, March 6th and March 13th. In the photo gallery of the second article were photos taken by Constance Richards of the poster.
I suppose this is why we have French majors. Non?