26 Angels Tournament: How one B.A.S.S. family in Newtown will turn horror into hope


“Someday at Christmas

There’ll be no wars…

Dateline: Newtown, CT

As we talked,

I cried.

“I don’t want it to be about the horrors, I don’t want it to be a blow by blow of that day, I don’t want to have to relive it…”

I could only listen, watch tears drip from the phone.

“I haven’t talked to any reporter about it Don…”

“Natalie, there’s no need to dredge up all the details…reasonable people get what happened…it’s up to you…can I write about what you want to do…”

I didn’t say anything else, I coughed, sniffed a bit, and gave Natalie her time…she would make the call on this story not me.  I could hear her breathe, she could hear me…


came softly on a breath.

And it took my breath away.

“when we have learned

…what Christmas is for…”

If I’m faced with writing another story like this, it will be the last story I ever write.

I am wrung out, dried up.


Skin on a frame, not much left inside.

I’m stuck in a bad movie, and the exit doors are locked…

“Don…everyone who stayed in the front office survived…I ran out into the hall with the Principal and the school psychologist.”

Natalie is…Natalie Hammond, Lead Teacher at Sandy Hook School, Newtown, CT.

Wife of Connecticut B.A.S.S Federation Nation member, Jerry Hammond.

I know Jerry, have sat with him at events.

Met Natalie.

These aren’t faces in the newspaper…these aren’t people labeled, “them” or “they,” it’s Jerry for goodness sakes.

“He shot my wife three times db.”

It’s a bad movie…I’m chained to the seat…

Natalie, stood face to face with the gunman of the Sandy Hook School.

The two people she stood there with where shot.

Natalie survived.

Her co-workers, and friends…did not.

Natalie had been a Third Grade Teacher at the school for more than a decade, just moved up to lead teacher, was in the front office when the unimaginable came through the door.

Out of respect for Natalie.

Out of respect for the victims.

Out of respect for all those who know of the horror and don’t need to keep reliving it.

That’s enough…that’s just freakin’ enough of the details.

Others will report it, I’m sure.

And theirs will come…30 years from now…seatbelt locked in the Horror Show that never ends.

You wait media dudes…you’ll see.


“…when we have learned

what Christmas is for…”

Natalie is barely out of the hospital…faces months of rehab and recuperation.

The Friday of the horror was also her 12 year old daughter’s birthday.

Jerry, spends much of his time going from wake to wake, funeral to funeral.

Today the Governor of Connecticut, Dannel P. Malloy, declared it a day of mourning and that at 9:30am there be a moment of silence…and that throughout the state churches and public offices with bells ring the bells 26 times for those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Instead of silence, I opted for a moment of screams.

Alone in the backyard, against a sideways rain I stood facing the wind and asked, “why,” and then shouted, “stop,”

and as the rain ran down my face, ran down my throat, whispered, “please…stop…

…the killing.”

“db…Natalie wants to call it the 26 Angels foundation.”

Jerry, who just took the phone from his injured wife, was talking soft, I started coughing again from the lump in my throat, “db you okay.”

“Yeah dude, fine.”

Yeah right…and the freakin’ movie just plays and plays.

“db that’s what the tournament will benefit…the 26 Angels Foundation…the kids.”

“…when we have found

what life’s really worth

there’ll be peace on earth…”

Not 15 minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary School

Not 15 minutes from the site of the horror.

There will be a tournament to benefit the 26 lost.

“It will be on May 5th 2013 at Danbury Town Park on Candlewood Lake, “ my friend Sylvia Morris, President of the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation is telling me, “Sylvia, what are you calling the tournament.”

“The 26 Angels Foundation Benefit Tournament.”

Natalie looked into the killer’s eyes.

Jerry drives from wake to wake.

An elementary school battlefield.

Small town embraces in small town churches.

Do not define these people by that Friday.

Do not define this town by that Friday.

Because the day that really matters, is Saturday.

And Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday…

And next week.  Month.  Year.

After all the news crews are off to the next horror.

Sandy Hook stays, Sandy Hook, a place where even before the yellow police tape is taken down, Newtown and the people of it and near it are working to help the children, each other, come through this.

Books will be written.

Movies shot.

Advice will rain down on the town, the town folk.

“someday at Christmas

men will not care

hate will be gone…”

But listen to someone from the 30 year horror seats, the experts don’t have the answers, don’t have the explanation.

They sound good, look good, but unless they have wings on their backs, they are stumbling through all of this just like you and I.

I found this out long ago,

sometimes, the answer is, there is no answer.

That the explanation is just this, there is none.

And at that exact moment, no answer, no explanation, in that moment comes,


Comes who you pray to.

Comes what you pray for.

Comes faith,

that someone, something, will show us just how good we all can be, will show us that bits of wonderful are inside us all,

and that the battlefields will grow flowers,

and that elementary school children will be safe to run among the petals,

and that standing there waiting for us will be 26 Angels,

who forgive us,

and who will always love us,

who will be there to usher us out of this horror show,

that never seems to end.

“and love will prevail

someday a new world that we can start

with hope in every heart.”

Someday At Christmas

Stevie Wonder


To donate

26 Angels Foundation

PO Box 356

North Haven, CT  06473

To help the CT B.A.S.S Nation set up the

26 Angels Foundation Benefit Tournament with donations you can reach the President Sylvia Morris at

this email address <wefish2@att.net>