Act #1 – Make a Difference: What I Will Do.
On December 14, 2012, the President of the United States – while sharing his thoughts to a nation reeling from the horrific event at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut – used words that touched my heart.
“…As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago – these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics…”
There are hundreds of lost lives crying out but, right now, the last 26 are the loudest. These children can never be replaced. We must embrace their memories as the inspiration for us to Act – now. Ann Curry used Twitter to get a lot of us thinking around the country with her #20 Acts of Kindness – one for each of the children. Their faces and stories – and Ann’s inspiration, which quickly turned to #26 Acts of Kindness – have ignited a fire in me.
This is first, for me, a father’s calling. And then so much more. I am deeply sorry that, as a nation, we didn’t do a better job protecting their innocent lives. I passionately believe that protecting innocence is our moral obligation – as parents, as leaders in our businesses and communities, as persons of faith, as human beings. So let’s Act – out of need and of kindness, out of a sense of responsibility and even urgency, out of integrity and the higher moral calling we expect of ourselves and ask of each other.
My life’s work – and that of my colleagues here at Hillard Heintze – has principally been spent preventing or confronting violence. We understand it. We believe much of it can be prevented. And, when violence occurs, we are comfortable confronting it head on. We know the behavior leading someone down a path to targeted violence can be identified, assessed and managed. And we put this insight into use every day to keep people safe. I have always believed that my life’s experience was preparation for a higher calling, a new chapter – one not yet written. That phase of my life starts now. I am determined to take this knowledge, these skills, my company’s resources and a time-tested prevention-oriented methodology to begin the most important thing I have ever aspired to achieve: helping our communities, schools, and parents protect our children. Starting today, and each day until January 26, I will publish our vision, strategy, objectives and plan here.
I am committing myself and our team to 26 new Acts which will lead us down a path to establishing a not-for-profit organization to prevent targeted violence against our children. We aspire to build a national targeted violence prevention center that will support every Pre-K to 12th grade school in our nation. We will begin immediately, but we won’t be able to do this alone. We need more of our nation’s best minds and experts to complement the outstanding threat assessment and security experts on our team. Big thinkers, brave doers, bold agents of change. The best in mental health, social services, education, law enforcement and government as well as clergy, business leaders and members of the legal profession. Why us? Why now? As much as I believe in our great democracy – and in all it stands for and all it does around the world every day – we can’t wait for government action alone. I didn’t know these children, but I will spend the rest of my life working to ensure that their short lives preserve thousands of others.
Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison. We will never forget you. In school after school, from today forward and for years to come, we will help transform your legacies from loss to light – thousands of wonderfully bright lights – across the nation.