Holiday cheer, meet holiday mourning.

At a time of year when many are finishing up their Christmas shopping and finalizing holiday plans, America was shaken to its core Friday as a 20-year-old gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 people – including 20 children – before turning the gun on himself. Including the shooter’s mother, who was reportedly killed by her son before the school shooting started, the death toll of Friday’s tragic events totals 28.

That’s 28 people who won’t get to open their presents on Christmas day, not to mention the countless other lives that were irrecoverably damaged. Parents of the young victims won’t get a chance to see their kids grow up, and their classmates and teachers will be forever traumatized by a heinous act that Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy called “a tragedy of unspeakable terms.”

Tragedy is something that seems to be in abundance as of late in America. Two people were randomly killed by a gunman at a mall in Portland, Ore., earlier this week and sting of this past summer’s Aurora, Colo., shooting still resonates. Dealing with a different kind of pain, New York and the East Coast are still reeling from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.

As further details emerge about the shooting, definitive actions will certainly be taken. School security plans will be reevaluated nationwide and the long-standing gun control debate has already been raised to a fever pitch in response to the shooting.

But before our attention is diverted to politics and rhetoric, we ask that people take a moment to mourn the monumental losses suffered in Connecticut. Feel sympathy and sadness for the family and friends whose lives were forever damaged by the shooting. But most of all, take a moment to call a loved one and tell them how much they mean to you because in times of tragedy, they are what matter most.

“Our hearts are broken today,” President Obama told the nation following the shooting. Indeed.

Copy Editor/Page Designer for Northfield News and Faribault Daily News. I also enjoy biking.