I took the long way home from Lancaster County yesterday.
At a one-room school identical to the one where the little girls were shot and killed on Monday, scrub-faced Amish kids played in the brilliant sunshine. They were noisy, energetic. They looked as if they hadn't a care in the world.
As I drove by I kept thinking, "This is what the school yard on Nickel Mines Road looked like Monday morning. What it looked like before that man came."
A few years ago, I worked on a story about the Amish in Iowa. As soon as they are able, every child has serious chores to do. There are no modern distractions or diversions.
One evening I milked cows in a lamp-lit barn with some Amish kids. They were curious and funny ... and innocent of the ways of the world.
It was then that I realized that the Amish lead their separate life in order to maintain their innocence. It's what makes Monday's shooting all that much more tragic.
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By Harry Smith