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.

  1. Kiersten Warren says:

    It’s a heavy sadness to reckon with indeed. The easy tears and jangled nerves seem to represent this past month for me. Cannot even try to imagine how it is for the victim’s families. So instead I pray. Thanks for this piece. Little Jack Pinto. We will remember you.

    • The sadness continues here. In the weeks since Sandy Hook, a local 16-year-old boy shot to death another 16-year-old boy and a man we know in his 40’s committed suicide this week. His birthday is today, his funeral is tomorrow. Prayers are needed every day. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. Watching the slide show of those sweet faces was heart-wrenching. Jack Pinto IS a great name. The world needs more hugs and smooches and prayers and less bad news. Hear me, you people out there?!

    • The last time my 9-year-old nephew Blaise and his 6-year-old cousin Samuel were here, we talked about Sandy Hook. They brought it up and I was surprised by how accurate their take on it was. I’m with you – more hugs and prayers, less death and violence. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. johncoyote says:

    Sandy Hook is a hard topic. Hard to understand how someone could kill children. This is a permanent scar on the USA. One lost man killed children for no reasons. Leave us all with question and concern. I feel for the poor families. I would be lost without one of my children.

    • It’s sad enough, I think, when you lose a child that young to illness or accident. But to have their lives taken from them, suddenly, for no good reason. That I can’t understand either. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, John. I like your poetry. You don’t always write on the easiest of themes but it’s pretty powerful stuff.

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