On August 17. 2013, Sea Scout Ship 100 held a christening ceremony for its newest boat, BENJAMIN CHASE, which was named after Benjamin Wheeler and Chase Kowalski, the two Tiger Cub Scouts whose lives were cut short during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
I was honored to be asked to provide a variety of support for this event, like helping to transit BENJAMIN CHASE from her berth at Ft. Washington Marina to the event location at Leeyslvaina State Park, promoting the event, inviting elected officials, acting as liaison between Sea Scouts and Woodbridge Sailing School on providing additional boats for the rose petal scattering, and making a last-minute pitch to the Fairfax County fireboat personnel to join our flotilla.
People have asked me how I held myself together through the day—which, for me, began at 7:30 am when I left my house to meet Skipper Todd Skiles for the drive up to Ft. Washington and the transit.
I tried hard to focus on being support and photographer, and that kept me at a slight distance–so I cried a bit, but did not start bawling. The hardest part was meeting the parents. I had to focus on saying, “It is very nice to meet you.” I could not allow myself to think about what it must be like for them. I kept finding myself wondering things like, “how do you go on after something like that tears your life to shreds?” Also, I felt very bad for the boys’ siblings, knowing that the rest of their lives will be shadowed by their fallen brothers.
After something so horrible, how do you even breathe? What do you do? How do you respond? What would I do? I simply do not know.