Yesterday was 9/12, the day that Benjamin Wheeler was born. He would have been seven years old, had he lived that long. Had he not been gunned down, along with 19 other children and six adults, in the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
Though I never met Benjamin, I remembered him yesterday, throughout the day, whenever I wrote or spoke the date. Many times. Each time, no matter what I was focused on, part of me remembered, “Benjamin Wheeler would have been seven today.”
I know about Benjamin only because of his death, only because Sea Scout Ship 100 named a boat in memory of him and Chase Kowalski, the other Tiger Cub Scout who was also murdered that day. The families of the scouts came to the christening, and Ship 100 hosted a remarkable event that was clearly meaningful to the parents, grandparents and siblings of the boys.
Todd Skiles, skipper/scoutmaster of Ship 100, wanted to remember the children whose lives were ended, not the name of the person who snuffed them out. At last night’s meeting, the unit observed Benjamin’s birthday by ringing the bell seven times. Six times for the years that Benjamin saw, and one for the first year that was stolen from him.
Remember Benjamin. Remember Chase. Remember.