Kendall: Thoughts on Orlando

By Heidi Kendall

The beauty, and possibly the curse, of having a personal blog is that I can write whatever I want. There is no editorial board or even an editor to tell me to do a different story or tone it down or just stop. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

A few days after the deadliest mass shooting in US history – and that’s saying something, because there have been over 1,000 mass shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012 – I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me. And I wasn’t even there! Imagine the feelings of the victims, the survivors, the families, the first responders, the surgeons, the nurses, all who saw or felt the carnage! It’s not OK. We have to face this horror and find ways to make it stop.

Heidi Kendall
Heidi Kendall

I’m a mom, first and foremost, and in every face of the 49 people who were shot to death on Saturday night in Orlando I see the children of moms. Moms know what I mean. Dads do, too. That sweet face could be the face of the baby I gave birth to, spent the best years of my life nurturing, and now have let go into the world. The lives of 49 moms have been shattered in a moment of unthinkable violence.

At our school board meeting last night I mentioned it during trustee announcement time. I can’t help it. The event just overshadows everything right now for me. I wanted to explain to people who feel the way I do that our schools are as safe as we can make them. The new and newly remodeled buildings will all have secure entries, which they haven’t before. Staff and teachers are getting training for responding to armed intruder incidents. We have a wonderful, highly trained law enforcement community in Missoula who also prepare for these horrific possibilities.

I love my country. Every day I thank God that I have the enormous privilege of living in the greatest place on earth, in the history of the world. But it is not perfect. We need to keep working on making a “more perfect union.” I called Sen. Steven Daines’ office yesterday and told the polite staffer my thoughts on this. Today I’m going to City Council to support the proposed background check ordinance. I’ll keep doing everything I can think of to change this new reality of utterly unregulated access to deadly weapons that can be used to slaughter our neighbors’ children in the blink of an eye.

We must stop these shootings. There are things we can do. We must summon the political courage and act.

Thanks for reading.

Heidi Kendall is one of eleven trustees for Missoula County Public Schools and maintains a regular blog about her thoughts and experience.