I started to write a column but deleted it. In fact, I’ve tried writing this a hundred times, but I keep erasing it. I start crying too hard.

Initially, I was going to write about the pediatrician, Roy Guerrero, who was born and raised in Uvalde, Texas. He attended Robb Elementary.

He was at lunch when the shooting happened. He rushed over to Uvalde Memorial Hospital in the aftermath of one of America’s most heartrending tragedies.

“It was a complete madhouse—what you see in disaster movies,” he said. “Doctors and nurses in every single room, people running around like maniacs, kids in the hallway bleeding and screaming, surgeons working on kids.”

In the hall he met a fourth-grade patient he’d been treating since infancy. The child saw the whole thing happen. She saw her teacher die. She told Guerrero she had rubbed blood on herself and played dead.

That’s as far as I got when I started weeping.

I couldn’t write anything more. This has never happened to me before. I’ve written about mass shootings

before, but this one has been different.

So I took a break. I packed my laptop and drove to a public park, and tried to get my head right. Sunlight, that’s what I needed. I needed to get out of my stuffy office.

I sat on a bench. The park was busy. The exercise track was loaded with fitness enthusiasts wearing Lycra so tight you could count their ribs. The playground was overrun with children.

I saw a kid playing Superman, running around, playacting like he was flying, he used a red towel as a cape.

I opened my laptop and tried to write another column.

This time I was going to write about paramedics in Uvalde. I interviewed one of the EMTs by phone a few days ago. He had driven 85 miles to be on the scene that day. He asked if I…

Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer, and summer was in full bloom in America. The nation experienced mostly beautiful weather.

The Midwest had highs in the 80s, The Southeast experienced temps even higher. Temperatures in the Florida panhandle exceeded approximately 173 degrees.

But it’s important to remember that it wasn’t a great Memorial Day weekend for everyone.

Yesterday in Saint Louis, for example, a man named Phillip was playing baseball with his kids while his wife, Lindsey, was making potato salad inside. The day was going swimmingly.

“Guys in my family have always played baseball on Memorial Day weekend,” Philip wrote to me this morning in an email. “It’s a longstanding tradition for us.”

Phillip was pitching. His 11-year-old son, Austin, was at the plate. Phillip delivered an easy pitch underhand. His son swung the bat like the baseball had personally insulted his mother. The bat connected.


The good news is that Phillip’s son hit a line drive. The bad news is: it was a line drive which struck a part of

Phillip’s anatomy most often associated with procreation.

The ball nailed Phillip. He howled in pain. He went down under the power. His kids all gathered around him and asked if he was okay. All Phillip could utter was, “Go get your mom, please.”

It bears mentioning, Phillip’s son was using an aluminum bat not a wooden bat. Which might not sound like an important detail to this story except that the exit velocity of a ball hit by an aluminum bat is a LOT higher than that of one hit by a wooden bat.

A ball hit by a wooden bat has an average velocity of 60 to 80 mph. Whereas a ball hit by an aluminum bat is capable of breaking the sonic barrier.

Phillip’s wife approached her husband and asked her children what had happened.

Her 4-year-old son remarked, “Austin hit daddy in…

In Washington D.C., near the intersection of 22nd Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW, just north of the Lincoln Memorial, stands a wall of black granite. It’s huge.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial consists of 140 stone panels, polished to a high finish, sunken into the earth. The panels create a massive wall that is 493 feet and 6 inches long, about the size of a skyscraper laid on its side.

You expect the wall to be big, but you’re not prepared for how big it really is. This thing is ginormous.

I was in D.C. a few months ago. The granite gleamed in the morning sun, I stood before the never-ending wall of stone, sipping a bottle of water, taking it all in. The Washington Monument was on one side, Honest Abe was on my other.

There was an old man and his grandson roaming the wall, reading the names reverently. The old man had a wild white beard, he wore an army cap.

“Look, Grandpa,” said the kid, “is this one my uncle’s name?”


your voice,” said Granddaddy.

“But… Why are we whispering?

“Respect,” the old man said.

There was indeed a very respectful mood at the Vietnam memorial, which surprised me. I’ve been to U.S. war memorials before. And at most National Park Service war memorials the mood is nonchalant, happy even. Because most memorials commemorate wars that happened so long ago that nobody can remember them.

At the Gettysburg Memorial, for example, I saw hundreds of families pushing strollers, laughing, posing with performers in Civil War costumes, snapping selfies. At Arlington National Cemetery, I saw school kids playing tag among gravestones.

But people were silent here.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is not like other American memorials. Here, I saw old men touching the wall, heads bowed. There were people taking photos of names. There were families telling old stories. I saw a few people weeping.


Dear Kid,

Don’t grow up. Not ever. Don’t turn into an adult. That’s my best advice to you. Resist adulthood. Be a kid forever.

Right now, a lot of adults are angry in America. We have a lot to be angry about. Adults can behave badly when they are angry. So please forgive us.

Because the truth is—and I shouldn’t be telling you this—adults can act pretty stupid. Please don’t tell anyone.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean we’re “stupid” in a negative sense. Truly, I don’t. After all, just because someone is stupid doesn’t mean you can’t love them. Take dogs. Dogs are can be very unsmart, but we still love them. Hallmark Channel movies can be ingloriously stupid, but they are also wonderful.

Still, this doesn’t change the fact that we adult humans are, in fact, giant dipsticks. The problem is, of course, that we adults think we are brilliant. The idiot thinks he’s wise, but the truly wise man knows he’s an idiot.

Oh, sure, our species occasionally does some brilliant things here on earth. Beer is only one example.

We’re not total fools. Humankind has, for instance, learned how to manufacture smartphones with touchscreens capable of flushing our toilets from outer space. We can perform surgery from 4,000 miles away through robotic technology. We produced James Brown.

But this doesn’t make us smart. Because we still don’t know how to listen. We don’t empathize. And even though our parents tried to teach us, we still don’t know how to share.

You know what we DO know how to do?

We know how to kill each other. Again, I’m not being pessimistic. This is just a fact of humanhood. Slaughter is a defining behavior for our species. We are among the only mammals who kill one another.

Tigers do not kill tigers. Deer, although they fight, do not kill deer. Squirrels don’t kill squirrels. When was the…

An old woman who shall remain anonymous arrived in Uvalde, Texas, early this morning, driving a 2009 Ford with high mileage and bad tires. She had a backseat full of flowers. She drove a long way.

The woman placed flowers on the crosses recently erected in memory of the 21 killed in the Robb Elementary shooting. She came all the way from Pittsburgh to be here.

“It was about 1,530 miles,” she wrote to me.

When I asked why she traveled this far, she answered, “Because I want to help.”

Meantime, other helpers invaded Uvalde. Some of the first ones came in the form of dogs. That’s right. Canines.

Lutheran Church Charities sent comfort dogs to Uvalde, to help those undergoing trauma. The animals are trained to bring comfort in crises and have been present in the aftermath of many mass shootings.

Such as Sandy Hook in 2012. A dog named Howe was at a community center only days after the shooting in Sandy Hook. Immediately, a little boy curled up next

to Howe and whispered into the dog’s ear. People standing nearby were weeping when they saw this. They said it was the first time in four days the boy had spoken.

And he spoke to a dog.

Eight of the LCC’s golden retrievers were dispatched to Uvalde County. They are Cubby and Devorah, Miriam, Abner, Elijah, Gabriel, Joy and Triton.

While the dogs were busy lending their support, a woman I will call Angie, a nurse, former paramedic, and soldier, sent me an email:

“Yesterday, I wanted to drive to Uvalde and do something, but there really isn’t a job for an arthritic lady like me. So I ordered a bunch of pizzas and had them delivered to the Uvalde Police Department. I hope first responders at least nibbled on something.”

At the same time, across town, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center set up a blood…

Nineteen kids came romping up the golden staircase, taking two steps at a time, sprinting toward the mother-of-pearl gates. It’s a wonder they didn’t knock Saint Peter over onto his Blessed Assurance.

The children all smelled like little-kid sweat and stinky feet. Their loud footsteps could be heard echoing from as far away as the Andromeda Galaxy.

The children were accompanied by two teachers.

“Slow down!” yelled Ms. Garcia, 48, who headed up the rear of the class.

Ms. Garcia taught at Robb Elementary School for 23 years. She died using her body to shield her students from gunfire. She was found with students still cradled in her arms. Two days after the attacks, her grief-stricken husband passed from a massive heart attack.

“No pushing!” hollered Ms. Mireles, 44, who was close beside Ms. Garcia. “I’m not gonna tell you twice!”

Ms. Mireles taught fourth grade. She was trained in special education. She taught for 17 years. Her children idolized her. She was the woman responsible for integrating students with developmental disabilities into

regular classrooms at Robb. She, too, leapt in front gunfire for her students.

The children’s voices were loud. They brought so much energy into this celestial place that crowds of seraphim began to gather at the gates until their feathers ruffled.

“The kids from Uvalde, Texas, are here,” the angels were murmuring among themselves.

Everyone up here has been expecting these tiny celebrities, of course. These kids have been on everybody’s minds. The Boss himself is a huge fan of these kids. They say he has been waiting at the gate for their triumphant arrival since about 3,000,000 B.C.

And here they came.

The doors opened. Their little faces burst through the hallway of life into life everlasting. And all eternity cheered. It was an immortal roar so loud it shook planets from their orbits and knocked the rings off Saturn.

Among the new arrivals was Jose…

A rural school. An overcast day. Mrs. Welch arrived early to work driving, her husband’s truck. There has been a lot of rain lately, she almost didn’t get here this morning. Her clay road washed out.

Mrs. Welch parked and stared at the brick building in the distance where she’s been teaching for 14 years. She tried to imagine what teachers in Uvalde, Texas, must have been feeling when their sanctuary was invaded by a lone gunman yesterday. A gunman who killed 19 students and two teachers.

She trotted across the parking lot toward the school, carrying a bulky cardboard box beneath her arm.

Her principal unlocked the door and buzzed her in.

“You found them?” the principal said.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Welch. “I found them.”

Last night at 9:30 p.m., Mrs. Welch had an idea for her school. So she got in her car and drove to her church while still in her PJs. She has a key to her church. Women like Mrs. Welch always have the key

to the church.

She dug through the church shed for a box of candles her church used for the Christmas Eve service last year. The candles have flimsy paper guards. The church has septillions of them.

When she walked into the school gym, the school staff had already gathered and was waiting. There was a somber mood hanging over them like a damp towel. These are people who have dedicated their lives to education. Yesterday, in Uvalde County, the sanctity of that hallowed calling was attacked.

The students started arriving. Kids were guided into the gymnasium and asked to remain silent out of respect for the 21 victims of Robb Elementary School. As children filled the bleachers, they were given candles.

Thus it was, that 232 students, first-, second-, third- and fourth-graders, entered the gymnasium and kept surprisingly quiet. These are 232 kids who are never quiet. Not even in…

There are no words.

Over the next few days, writers, journalists and newscasters will be playing one-string fiddles, bringing updates about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. But it will all just be white noise. Their talk will merely be commentary. Because there are no words. Not for this.

There are no words to explain why an 18-year-old opened fire in Robb Elementary shortly after allegedly killing his grandmother.

No words can accurately report the killing of 19 grade-schoolers and 2 adults, including fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles. There are no words expressing why the flag is flying at half staff over the White House tonight.

Twenty-three years ago, I remember being struck dumb in much the same way.

I was in our church fellowship hall. The TV was playing in the corner. Our youth group had just finished setting up folding chairs for an upcoming wedding because our youth group was nothing but a glorified posse of janitors.

The primetime news was on. It was a


“Everybody shut up,” said someone’s mom, who stood before the television, chewing on her thumbnail.

We gathered around the screen and watched in rapt horror. The text on the TV read: “FIFTEEN DEAD IN SHOOTING.” The news reporter called it the “Massacre in Columbine, Colorado.”


I remember seeing footage of Patrick Ireland, 17, being pulled out a window by police officers clad in body armor. I remember hearing that Columbine’s two killers had selected minorities, jocks, and Christians for their victims.

I will forever remember Cassie Bernall, 17; Stephen Curnow, 14; Corey DePooter, 17; Kelly Fleming, 16; Matthew Ketcher, 16; Daniel Mauser, 15; Daniel Rohrbough, 15; Dave Sanders, 47; Rachel Scott, 17; Isaiah Shoels, 18; John Tomlin, 16; Lauren Townsend, 18; and Kyle Velasquez, 16.

I remember hearing about Valeen Schnurr. She had been shot and was crawling on the floor of the library, covered in her own blood. She was begging…

I am browsing a shelf of antique books. I come across the “Official Boy Scout Handbook” published in 1945.

The binding is cracked with age. In the back pages are ads for Louisville Slugger, “Boy’s Life,” and Goodyear bicycle tires. It’s a tiny book, it would fit easily into the back pocket of your Levi’s. The cover is illustrated by Norman Rockwell.

I flip it open.

Chapter One. “What Is a Scout?” the title reads.

“A Scout!” it begins. “What fun he finds hiking into the woods! He tells north from south by the stars. East from west from the shadows… His Scout ‘good turns’ to someone each day make him many friends, for the way to HAVE friends is to first BE one.”

I was in Boy Scouts. Every boy my age was. We had meetings at the Methodist church. We sat in the front pews and tried to impress each other with bodily noises and anatomy tricks. My father was a Scoutmaster and a lifelong Scout. He knew how

to swallow his own tongue.

“Scouting,” it says in Chapter Two, “knows no race or creed or class. Troops are found in Catholic Parish, Jewish Synagogue, and Protestant Church. It is available to both farm and city. It is found in schools—it serves the rich and poor alike.”

There was an all-Black troop across town that went camping with us. We were all friends. Their Scoutmaster was a Church of God preacher. He led our hikes by teaching us to sing “In the Sweet By and By.” He showed me how to use a whetstone. He taught us to say grace like we meant it. That sweet man came to my father’s funeral with his whole troop.

“Our America is a melting pot,” the handbook says. “Our strength has come from every people... In a world which blacks out individual freedom, our America must stand as a lighthouse to…

I am writing this before I go on a stage, about to speak into a microphone and tell a story over radio airwaves. I only have eleven minutes. My story is a simple one. There are jokes embedded within it. Jokes I hope people laugh at.

I am not nervous—which is somewhat of a miracle. I used to get nervous a lot. I used to get so nervous that I talked like Porky Pig on a blind date. But I’m calm.

They tell me this station’s audience is small. Only two radios will actually tune into this AM station on a weeknight. The sound engineer, and the sound engineer’s mother. The signal isn’t strong. But it does reach the interstate.

I’m excited nonetheless.

After all, you never know who will be listening. Maybe a man in an eighteen-wheeler will be overcome by unexplained inclinations to turn on his radio. And MAYBE, as if by urgings of unseen forces, he’ll turn his dial to a weak-signaled AM station. And MAYBE, by miracle, he will have reception for ninety seconds and hear me say:

“Hi everybody, I’m Sean Di—”

(Static hisses.)

“...And I just wanted to say from the bottom of my heart th—”

(More static.)

“...Our guest has been Sean Dietrich.”

I don’t just like radio. I love it.

In fact, if you would’ve met me when I was a young boy, making mud pies in the backyard, you would’ve known that I already had a career in radio.

I had an old condenser microphone my father bought at a garage sale. It was broken, but I used it for make believe.

Back then, I would report on weather, school kickball, and deliver updates on the happenings within Miss Welch’s socially stratified first-grade class.

I was, for instance, the first broadcaster to break the news of the scandal that rocked the elementary school—involving the high-society couple, Joey and Katie.

Joey allegedly…