I have not written about the tragedy that befell the quiet Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pa on Monday. I don’t know if it’s because I have been consumed with working the Mark Foley story or whether I have personally been afraid to take a closer look. But I think it’s the latter.
The funeral of a fifth Amish girl took place today and like yesterday, the stoic and composed Amish people proceeded along country roads in horse-drawn buggies to bury their young. The men wore traditional long beards and wide-brimmed hats, the women in long black dresses. The girls were buried in handmade wooden coffins. The scene is reminiscent of a time in the past – but what happened here at the schoolhouse was anything but innocent.
I cannot understand what drove a deeply disturbed 32 year-old milkman to carry out the horrific execution of those young girls – some of whom are fighting for their lives still. And I reject the killer’s excuse of being tormented by memories of sexually abusing two female relatives 20 years ago. Simply put – Charles Carl Roberts IV embodied evil itself.
So it is humbling for me to learn that the leaders of the Amish community have embraced Roberts’ relatives. They have set up a fund for the killer’s widow and three children and even invited Roberts’ wife to attend the funeral of 13 year-old Marian Fisher. We also learned today that in the midst of the terror, young Marian offered to give her life to save the others.
I have two daughters and I cannot possibly imagine the grief that those parents must be enduring now and forever. But I am incredibly impressed by the brave attempt of Marian and would guess that for her parents, it is a bittersweet moment of pride.
This is a story of immense sadness. And we grieve for the Amish community, the victims, their families and even Charles Carl Roberts’ family. It is time for great reflection on our own lives and how we live them. There are lessons of amazing faith, forgiveness, healing and sacrifice to be learned from this terrible event that has shocked the nation.
I can be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.