Many of you may know that for over two decades, I had the honor of serving the people of Connecticut in elected offices. I first served as a state representative, then as lieutenant governor and governor.
On March 6, 1998, I was serving as lieutenant governor when a disgruntled employee went into the Lottery headquarters in Newington, shot and killed four people, then shot and killed himself. One of those killed that day was my friend, Linda Mlynarczyk, the Chief Financial Officer of the Lottery Corporation.
Gov. John Rowland and I attended the funerals of the victims and grieved with their families. I had never experienced anything like it. Did this really happen in Connecticut?
On Sept. 11, 2001, the horrific terrorist attack on the World Trade Center shattered our nation like no other event in my memory. I was serving as lieutenant governor and watched and listened as the governor called EVERY family with Connecticut ties.
We cried and we grieved, we mourned the loss of life but we also hugged survivors, heard stories of heroism and later built a lasting memorial to those lost that day.
On Aug. 30, 2010, I was serving as governor when once again, a disgruntled employee opened fire at the Hartford Distributors facility. He managed to kill eight people before he took his own life.
As I went to the scene, I remember thinking about the victims -- wondering about their lives. These men were not strangers, they were our brothers, our fathers, uncles, husbands. What will their families do without them?
Once again, I cried and grieved with the families.
On Dec. 14, 2012, I was NOT serving in elected office. Rather, I was serving as chauffeur for my 6-year-old grandson.
I took him to school and at the pupil drop-off, an aide opened the car door and led him into the building. Just a few steps into his journey, my grandson turned, smiling at me.
He waved and said, "Bye, Mema."
"Bye," I replied, and whispered, "I love you."
Later, as the events of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting unfolded, I kept thinking of my grandson and our goodbye that morning.
How many mothers, fathers, other "memas," "nanas" or "grandmas" had said goodbye that morning -- and now would not see their child again.
What horror had befallen on our cute and quaint little Sandy Hook? Why was our beloved state once again in the midst of violence?
What an unspeakable crime! What sadness! What grief! What misery!
To the families and to the wonderful people of Newtown, please know that I cry and grieve with you.
Unfortunately, as a state representative, lieutenant governor and governor, I have learned that we cannot legislate common sense.
There is evil in our world, and we must recognize that.
It is time for a national dialogue on how to address this malady that has beset our nation.
It's about more than gun control.
It's about more than mental health issues.
It's about more than violence seen in movies, TV shows and video games.
Our country is better than this. We need to reset our moral compass. We need to commit ourselves to being a better society.
It starts today and it must last longer than our short-term memory.
Former Gov. M. Jodi Rell is a resident of Brookfield.