I almost cried at work today

For four days, I have watched video on television of the horror and tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The first images I saw reminded me of how many times this has happened this year. Aurora. Oak Creek. Even here in Minneapolis. Working in television news, I have become jaded to this type of violence. My job as a newscast producer requires me to keep myself together, and distance myself from what I write about. I am not without emotion, but I must keep my emotions in check from the moment I start putting together a show.

This morning I witnessed a moment stronger than anything I can remember in the three years I’ve spent as a producer. Gene Rosen was a hero to many parents and kids the morning of the shooting. The grandfather lives near the elementary school. Six kids who
escaped the shooting made it to his driveway. He invited them in to protect them and called their parents. While they waited, he brought them toys and juice, and talked to two of the kids about what happened.

Here is the video of Rosen explaining what he went through that morning. Although it is an abbreviation of a different video I saw, what he says is heartbreaking. He embodies so much pain, empathy, sympathy, gentleness, and sadness. Here was a man, with no relation to the school, thrust into a tragedy. He was aware of the ignorance and innocence of children. How do you handle that? I would never want to trade shoes with Rosen because no person should ever be in his position, nor should anyone who was at the school that day.

I felt a tear swell in my eye listening to him. I was on deadline, but his voice, his inflection was so human, I simply could not click “stop,” and cut him off. He needed to say those words, and I was compelled to listen to them.

I am fortunate because I am so far removed from the tragedy. My heart goes out to the reporters and field crews who’ve spent the last four days in Newtown, who’ve also had to bury their emotions for the sake of the public. Certainly a reporter has had to shed a tear of their own, because this shooting was so horrific, so unimaginable, how do you make sense of it?

2012 has had so many gun-related tragedies. Simply put, enough is enough. I won’t politicize what happened, but I hope the writing is on the wall. I hope 2013 is a happier, safer year for everyone. No more bloodshed, no more tears.

And it reminds me of these lyrics, which never seemed more appropriate than now. God bless.

“And so happy Christmas for black and for white
For the yellow and red ones let’s stop all the fights.
A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.”

Mike Brannen is a morning newscast producer for KSTP, the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis-St.Paul. Before that, he was a producer at KIRO7 in Seattle, where he led the 4:30 a.m. show to a #1 share in the U.S. He received an MA in Broadcast Management from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2010 and received his Bachelor of Journalism degree the year before. He shares more about his life at mikebrannen.com and on Twitter: @MikeBrannen.

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