If our names determine our destinies, Jack Pinto was destined for greatness. Those three short syllables ring of action, purpose and charisma. A boy named Jack Pinto could grow up to be anything: a fighter pilot, a rock star, a politician, a sports legend, a hero. Or nothing at all.
Jack Pinto was a six-year-old who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Though the funerals are long over and the media have moved on, I can’t get him out of my head. It’s the name. And the picture. You’ve probably seen it. He’s wearing a football jersey (his team was the Giants) and the letters “NY” are emblazoned on his flushed cheek. He’s raising a power fist that says “Go Giants” to the camera and you can tell by the grin and the gleam in his eye that pint-sized Jack Pinto is a force to be reckoned with. When that picture was taken, it may not have been possible to guess what kind of mark that kid would make on the world but by God, you knew he would make one.
In one magazine article about the tragedy at Sandy Hook, it’s a sad coincidence that on the flipside of the page with Jack Pinto’s picture on it is a photo of another boy. Adam Lanza. In it, he’s smiling shyly at the camera, one hand raised in greeting. He looks like one of those kids in high school who at best blends into the wallpaper and that nobody ever remembers or at worst, gets picked on in the hallways and nobody cares. When that picture was taken, you wouldn’t have guessed that that kid would make a mark on the world. But he did, by killing 27 people, including Jack Pinto.
The Sandy Hook massacre continues to raise questions about gun control, security measures in schools, and the treatment of mental illness. In my mind, those questions are joined by one more: what greatness lay ahead for Jack Pinto? It’s a shame that we’ll never know.