As citizens of Nashville conduct vigils for the victims of Monday’s school killing, this part of the city renowned for its music and live theater has gone silent.
On Tuesday, there was sadness and uncertainty everywhere, but perhaps it sting the most in the Green Hills neighborhood, where the Covenant School stands on top of a peaceful hill encircled by trees – a beautiful retreat from an otherwise noisy city.
Locals continued to arrive throughout the day to leave bouquets, messages, and soft animals at an improvised tribute outside the privately operated Christian school for the deceased’ children.
Others congregated for a devotional ceremony of meditation at a chapel down the road.
“Nashville is a wonderful place to be, and I feel like that bubble has burst now,” said attendee Laura Morris. “I don’t want people to think of us in that way.”
Ms. Morris, who has resided in the city for two decades, said she treasured the feeling of community and never imagined such a “senseless tragedy” could occur here.
But it happened.
Nashville entered new territory on Monday, becoming yet another map point in a sad, but increasing, catalog of gun atrocities across the United States.
A devoted headmaster, a caring parent who worked as a janitor, a replacement teacher, and three nine-year-old pupils were among the casualties.
The police have not yet revealed a potential reason.
Governor Bill Lee stated in a taped speech that his wife, Maria, had intended to have a guest over for supper on Monday night. Cynthia Peak, one of the gunshot casualties, did not survive.
“Everyone in Tennessee was hurt yesterday, but some parents awoke without their children, children awoke without their parents and teachers, and spouses awoke without their loved ones,” Governor Lee said.
“This morning, Maria awoke without one of her best friends.”
Music City, with its small-town vibe, has seen disaster before, but nothing like this.
In 2020 alone, the city was devastated by a storm, the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on the tourist sector, and a Christmas Day car explosion that killed the hermit who constructed the device.
Religion and politics frequently collide in this town, but not on Tuesday.
Most residents we spoke with wanted to avoid discussing politics or the gun argument in favor of focusing on the casualties.
Others, such as Laine Arnold, decided to concentrate on the police reaction.
Officers arrived at the Covenant School and were able to put a stop to the gunfire within four minutes.
“They’re heroes,” she proclaimed.
Jaime Sanderson, a second-grade teacher at Davidson Academy, another Christian school across town, strolled up to address a gathering of about 80 people at an afternoon memorial held in a courtyard there.
She glanced around at the various ages. Some toddlers clutched their parents as they reclined on the lawn, their faces expressionless and fearful.
“Even if we had no personal connection to the victims, they represent people we love and live with – children, teachers, administrators,” said Ms. Sanderson, a Davidson parent with four children.
“It’s no longer happening across the country; it’s happening right here, and it’s difficult.”