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This column was originally published in the Wall Street Journal.
NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT – The word “community” is overused. It is even the title of a television sitcom. But in the context of Newtown – the Connecticut town of 27,000 that I’ve known as home since 1969 – it is authentic. Yet from within our midst came Adam Lanza, now a murderer of 20 innocent local children, six of their dedicated teachers, and his own mother.
Today the world is focused on our heretofore-bucolic slice of America. As the international media’s satellite dishes sprout and their choppers descend to dissect the shooting and the shooter, Newtown is mostly presented as either an affluent suburb of New York or a picture-perfect New England hamlet with old-timey colonial houses, horse farms and a historic Main Street.
Neither characterization does it justice. To live here is to know why, after two decades of global wandering, I returned eight years ago to raise my family.
I never expected to come back to Newtown. But as my two boys – born in Milan and London – began their schooling, it became obvious that of all the places I could choose to live, none was better. My parents would be nearby, and I knew the quality of the schools, with their committed teachers and involved parents, because both my brother and I attended them from K-12. Even more than all that, it was Newtown’s sense of being one town – albeit encompassing many differences- that made it so unlike any of the other places I had lived.