Sandy Hook: A Reflection in Time the 1980s When the Children Cried

by Melody Jean

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a song has been continually popping into my head. It’s a song that took over the airwaves when I was 12 years old. The year was 1988, the artist White Lion, and the song, When the Children Cry.

This tune was released to the public in the late 80’s so I can’t help but to reflect upon what was going on in our world preceding the artist putting the pen to the paper and writing these profound lyrics. I remember hearing the song, and being just 12, thinking “man, I’m in trouble.” If a rock band is apologizing to me and my fellow children for the shortcomings of society and those who were charged with keeping us safe and helping to ensure that we have prosperous futures; then we are doomed.

White Lion’s song has been haunting my mind for days and days; and this morning it was literally driving me crazy. I knew I had to find a way to get this out of my head and it was correlated with Sandy Hook and the tragedies that we have been experiencing since the beginning of man. The first step in the process of sorting anything out for me, to rid myself of the energy waiting to escape my hands, as a writer, or an artist if you will, is to well, write. Yet, I had the song, the song in my head and other thoughts, and everything was jumbled. So I became compelled to listen to the song first. I visited YouTube found the song and the lyrics online as well. While the song was playing I began to search the net, looking back in time to when I was a child, when this song was popular, and examined what was going on. I wanted to ascertain why the band thought at that point, as we all do today, that we were facing a fearful future.

I then started to think … gosh, will humans always face this dreaded fear? Did my parents fear, as I do, bringing children into this scary, yet awesome world? Is man’s fate to continue destroying ourselves, yet living in our little bubbles hoping that by some luck of the draw this diseased world won’t touch us?

In my research of significant events from the 80’s I came across many. Almost too many to note, yet I will try my best to capture as much as I can to provide a picture of the period when I grew up and why White Lion might have written this song, which still haunts me. When you review all of the events altogether, I can’t help but think why hasn’t someone made this better by now? This isn’t my job, or the average citizen’s job; we don’t have that power. It’s our world leaders, they are the ones dropping the ball, yet we are the ones suffering. How frustrating it is to have our hands tied and continually having to watch the “children cry.”

In review of the 80’s, the events are pretty telling to what we are living today. They include John Lennon’s assassination in 1980, Ronald Reagan being voted into office, serving two terms, and surviving an assassination attempt in 1981, as did Pope John Paul II. Anwar Sadat of Egypt was assassinated which many speculate signaled the beginning of Islamic terrorism. This was the first significant event by Islamic terror because they abhorred his peace treaty with Israel. Other notable events – Martial Law in Poland ’81-’83 and Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in ’82. It was in 1981, too, that a new plague was identified, which we have come to understand as HIV/AIDS. In ’83 a US Embassy in Beirut was bombed and Soviets shot down a Korean airliner. India’s Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was killed by body guards in ’84 and famine hit an all-time high in Ethiopia in 1985. Additionally in ’85, this was the year that we identified a hole in the ozone layer. The first major signal that humans were destroying the environment. In 1986 the Iran-Contra Scandal broke-out, and the U.S. bombed Libya. Another stand-out event was the ‘Challenger Disaster’ in 1986 where many school children witnessed the explosion live because NASA placed a school teacher aboard. The date was January 28th, which was also unfortunately my 10th birthday. Other powerful events include The Chernobyl Disaster in 1986, The Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, and the fall of the Berlin Wall also in ’89 (which was a heightened period of the Cold War).

These events have to be, at the very least, part of the answer as to why White Lion wrote the song, When the Children Cry. I can only imagine which rock star, band or pop artist is currently writing THE tribute song that we will all listen to, to honor the innocent young souls and the heroes that tried to protect them at Sandy Hook. Yet, why must we keep writing songs? Why can’t we heed the warnings that we all see? If the government can’t fix this, can’t we as human beings become better? Better citizens loving one another and offering up kindness to everyone – even the weird kid on the school bus, or the “off” woman in line at the grocery store? It starts with the average citizen not allowing our children to ridicule and make fun of others – putting an end to school bullying and bashing. Those things, and much more, mess with a child’s mind leading some to become unstable members of our world. Our children’s world. It begins with us, the people, nourishing and creating better human beings. This is our birthright, our heritage. I share White Lion’s lyrics below and a link to their YouTube video. It is my wish that we have to wish no longer for a world where our children can “live in love and peace.”

When the Children Cry

Little child
Dry your crying eyes
How can I explain
The fear you feel inside?

‘Cause you were born
Into this evil world
Where man is killin’ man
And no one knows just why

What have we become?
Just look what we have done
All that we destroyed
You must build again

When the children cry
Let them know we tried
‘Cause when the the children sing
Then the new world begins

Little child
You must show the way
To a better day
For all the young

‘Cause you were born
For the world to see
That we all can live
With love and peace

No more presidents
And all the wars will end
One united world
Under God

When the children cry
Let them know we tried
Cause when the children sing
Then, the new world begins

(Solo)

What have we become?
Just look what we have done
All that we destroyed
You must build again

No more presidents
And all the wars will end
One united world
Under God

When the children cry
Let them know we tried
‘Cause when the children fight
Let them know it ain’t right

When the children pray
Let them know the way
‘Cause when the children sing
Then the new world begins.

When The Children Cry lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

 

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