Crocker Farm Elementary School, Monday morning
So for the first time in memory, I was actually happy not to see an overt police presence, even though that was the expectation. Not that uniformed officers make school children or their parents nervous.
At least, normally, not in Amherst.
But these times are far from normal. The shock waves from Friday's mass murder are still profoundly in the present, like the dark gloomy weather that delayed by two hours the opening of the Amherst schools this morning.
A police department is, by nature, reactionary. You see something wrong, call 911, and they come quickly. But they can't possibly stand guard, at all our schools, during all their hours of operation. For that we would need to mobilize the National Guard.
And is that the message we want to send to our kids: Our schools can only be safe when patrolled by armed guards?
Amherst has come a long way in implementing strong security protocols, a byproduct of Jere Hochman's tenure circa 2003-2008. Before that, the doors remained open during school hours. In spite of what happened at Columbine in 1999.
But then again, when I grew up in Amherst a generation ago, my mother never felt the need to lock the front door at night.
Our flag is at half staff today to honor and remember those innocent lives lost ... but will soon return to its routine position atop the staff. Friday however -- like 9/11 -- was a morning to never forget.