Early on a hint-of-spring morning recently, a 30-something mom was delivering her 10-year old 4th grader to school. The news being what it was, she wanted to inquire about her son’s school safety protocols.
“Do you have safety drills in school? she inquired. “Sure, mom,” the lad responded.
“I mean, are they the real thing? Like, do they explain what could happen and what to do exactly?” “Sure, mom, they tell us exactly what to do.”
“OK, so tell me the drill.”
“Well,” her son, Dez, reflects. “First the teacher runs to the door and closes it and locks it. Then she puts a piece of black paper over the window in the door. Then four of us boys slide the big tables in our room up against the door to make it harder for anyone to get in.”
“That sounds about right,” mom reflects. “Then what?”
“Um, then the class goes to the back of the room, as far from the door as possible, and just huddles together. Us four boys take our positions in front of them, between them and the door. It’s like we were kind of protecting them.”
“You do what?” is mom’s incredulous response.
“Me and three other boys stand in front of them. It’s like so they wouldn’t get hurt.”
Mom will say later that she was instantly overcome with nausea. “And why were you chosen to stand there and take the first bullets that might be fired?”
“I wasn’t chosen, mom,” Dez recalls, “I volunteered.”
“Why?” mom pleads.
“Mom,” Dez responds, “I couldn’t stand the thought of my classmates getting shot and me being the only survivor.”
Mom, you’re raising a hero. I read in an old Book once, “Greater love has no one than this, that a person lay down his life for his friends.” You’re already instilling that principle in your 4th-grader. You have inspired all of us who read your story.
In fact, you have helped us understand what sacrifice means. You’ve taught us the reality of rushing to the side of one who is under attack from the enemy and giving our all to protect them. Through your son you’ve shown us how we can step in front of one who is under the attack of a character assassin and deflect the gossip bullet.
May God grant that Dez may never need to step between a person of evil intent and his classmates. But because your son volunteered to do that, he has helped make all of us braver, and stronger, and less selfish. And he has given all of us a profound new understanding of how we too, can volunteer.
By Don Jacobsen