In rural Chester County, Pa., about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, thick fog swirls around the trunks of knotty trees. This piece of 18th-century farmland could, by all outward appearances, be one of the misty forests of Middle Earth, the setting of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fantasy novels.
You may have heard of a little movie called Les Miserables, coming to many, many theaters on Christmas Day. It's based on a 27-year-old musical that was in turn based on Victor Hugo's classic 150-year-old novel about a man, Jean Valjean, who stole a loaf of bread and served 19 years on a chain gang. After his parole, he takes on a new identity and finds happiness and prosperity — until he's tracked down by his old jailer. The epic story plays out over decades, eventually peaking against the backdrop — and the barricades — of the French student rebellion of 1832.
And this morning, of course, we are reporting the story from Newtown, Connecticut; where yesterday, a young man named Adam Lanza shot and killed some 26 people at an elementary school - 20 of them, small children. Connecticut state police have briefed residents of Newtown, and reporters, on the latest from the crime scene at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and at second crime scene.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School joins a sad and lengthening list of names in recent U.S. history. Since 12 students and a teacher were killed at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999, there have been scores of other school shootings - so many it may be hard to recall all the names: Red Lake, Nickel Mines, Virginia Tech and Chardon High School are just a few of the names that have become branded by tragedy. Ben Markus of Colorado Public Radio spoke with Frank DeAngelis, the principal of Columbine High School.