We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

“Somewhere over the rainbow”

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John Eyster
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

“Somewhere over the rainbow"

I encourage you to start your day today listening to children from Sandy Hook, CT singing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with Ingrid Michaelson. I heard the report yesterday and TODAY I went to the YouTube video online. I confess, I have never heard the words of that song with so much meaning and inspiration as I did this morning.

First and foremost, I urge that you use this link to watch the YouTube video, “Ingrid Michaelson, Newtown Children Perform ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’…” with the report from ABC News’ “Good Morning America yesterday.

What messages do YOU hear? Consider the lyrics of the song, including:

“When all the clouds darken up the skyway, There's a rainbow highway to be found, Leading from your window pane, To a place behind the sun, Just a step beyond the rain

“Somewhere over the rainbow Way up high There's a land that I heard of Once in a lullaby.”

“The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, Are also on the faces of people passing by I see friends shaking hands, Saying, ‘How do you do?’ They're really saying, I... I love you. I hear babies cry and I watch them grow, They'll learn much more Than we'll know And I think to myself What a wonderful world (w)oohoorld.”

What messages do YOU hear?

If you want to read the report about this special event – project, I suggest you read the Associated Press article published in the Washington Post. “Newtown children who survived school massacre record ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ for charity.”

The article reports, “Twenty-one children from Newtown, Conn., performed the song Tuesday with singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’ Most of them are current and former students of the school, where 20 first-graders and six staff members were killed.

“They recorded ‘Over the Rainbow’ on Monday at the Fairfield, Conn., home of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, two former members of the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club rock bands. Copies went on sale Tuesday on Amazon and iTunes, with proceeds benefiting the United Way of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Youth Academy.

Special meaning is given to the singing of the song with testimony of the children. For example, “Kayla Verga, 10, said she was singing for a friend, 6-year-old Jessica Rekos, who was killed in the massacre. “’Singing the song makes me feel like she’s with me and she’s beside me, singing along with me,’ Kayla told ‘GMA.’”

The article continues, “Another girl, 10-year-old Sandy Hook student Jane Shearin, added, ‘I really want to be kind to the people who have lost their loved ones and help them to recover from their sorrow.’”

The recording is being sold with proceeds going to Newtown Youth Academy and United Way of Western Connecticut. It is available as MP3 file Amazon and iTunes. I bought a copy for my iPad on iTunes this morning. I’ve been playing it again and again.

In this context, I read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s VERY IMPORTANT editorial, “Gun laws need updating in the wake of Newtown: We favor tighter controls, including expanded background checks and easier access to federal records for local police.” I agree with the editorial. I hope you will read the editorial and comment.

I agree with the editorial’s support of President Obama’s announcement of gun reform proposals to be announced later today. I myself HOPE Obama has the courage and persistence needed to bring reform to fruition.

I also agree with the editorial’s assertion that our Wisconsin Legislature should be ready to take appropriate action too. Do YOU?

The editorial identifies specific provisions which it supports – they are: •A ban on assault weapons. •A ban on high-capacity magazines. •A ban on the online sale of ammunition. •Measures to allow local police departments easier access to federal records on gun ownership when they need to trace a weapon used in a crime. •Universal federal background checks.

Do YOU agree with these provisions? WHY or WHY NOT?

Read the whole editorial. It is a thoughtful analysis of the realities of the situation. I agree with the editorial that the political capital which the president may have to invest to get gun reform into law is worth it. As it states, “We believe it's worth it. Certainly, all those grieving families in Connecticut must believe that. We must not forget the innocent martyrs of Newtown.” Do YOU agree?

I was VERY HAPPY to read about the decisive action taken by the State of New York yesterday to respond to the NEED for gun reform. I myself would like to see WI enact the same law! Would YOU?

The editorial makes the very important assessment that a federal solution is best rather than a patchwork of state laws. “But if the federal government doesn't do its job, the states may have to. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers in that state on Tuesday passed a number of changes to gun laws, including expanding an existing ban on assault weapons and measures to prevent people with mental illness from acquiring firearms.” I too would prefer a federal solution.

The editorial proceeds to assess the situation here in Wisconsin noting that Republicans control both houses of the Legislature; any effort to tighten existing laws or write new ones is going to be difficult.

Important to note the report of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ statement in a recent meeting with the Editorial Board, "My heart breaks when I watched what happened. We are going to look at our mental health laws to see if there are things we could tighten up to ensure that every single person who does not have the legal ability to own a weapon doesn't have one.’”

Again, I agree with the editorial as it laments that Vos doesn't believe that other solutions, including banning high-capacity magazines, would be effective.

I agree with the editorial’s stance, “We think the speaker is wrong about that. It's not just ‘feel-good’ legislation, as he put it. Over time, such a ban, as well as a ban on military-style weaponry, can make a difference.

“We've said it before: There is no reason civilians need assault-style rifles. No reason they need to be able to buy ammunition online. No reason they need high-capacity magazines. No reason they should fear background checks.

“No reason at all. The nation needs its representatives to overcome their fear of the NRA and similar groups - and do the right thing.’

NOW is the “kairos” – the right/perfect time! I am hopeful but not optmistic. What do YOU expect? Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 9:25 am Monday, April 29, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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