More years ago than I want to recall I spent a year teaching 8th, 9th and 10th graders at Kootenai Jr.-Sr. High School near Harrison. I was fresh out of college, truly green behind the ears but still look back fondly on the year.
I felt I had a good impact on every student. Equally important though, I learned as much from the students and their parents. especially about the strong sense of community that binds all the residents together. Most of it derives from a shared struggle to make a living in a resource economy under transition.
In small communities no person is an island unto themselves. The shared struggle translates into one extending their sense of family to all their neighbors. Conversely, when any member of this small community dies it hits everyone hard because as the English poet John Donne put it so well five hundred years ago, any one's death and everyone's death diminishes us all.
These thoughts all flooded my mind as I read the tragic news of a two-year-old boy finding his mother's concealed weapon in her purse last week while at the Wal-Mart in Hayden, pulling the trigger and killing his 29-year-old mother.
One just knows that the profound sense of deep grief almost overwhelmed all who heard the sad news. The entire family has to be distraught over Veronica Rutledge's senseless death. A husband will never be the same nor a son.
Mrs. Rutledge came from a well-known and well-liked family, the Hendricks family, who reside in Harrison. Veronica was the valedictorian of her 2004 class. She and all her siblings were described by former Kootenai principal and Harrison Mayor Rich Lund as incredibly bright and all well-liked.
Are there lessons to be learned so that other lives might be saved? I think so.
First, many urban dwellers don't understand why most rural residents own and/or carry weapons. One woman's answer to why she carried was a tart "because I can't carry a policeman around on my back to ensure my protection 24/7."
In urban areas police protection is often just five minutes from the time of the call to 9-1-1. In a rural area it can be well over an hour. I asked two women who carry concealed weapons for thoughts on this tragedy and what could be done to prevent it from happening again. (more…)