Nashville, TN – In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, one Tennessee father has decided to take matters into his own hands and stand guard at Gower Elementary in his full military fatigues.
Staff Sgt. Jordan Pritchard was one of many parents over the weekend wondering what they could do in response to the Connecticut shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and an additional six adults. He decided to take action and personally hold vigil over the students and teachers of Gower Elementary School in Nashville, reasoning that if anyone was going to keep them safe, it would be him.
“I feel like this is something I had to do,” he said.
Pritchard takes his kids to school at Gower in the morning and then stands in front of the entrance for the rest of the day in full marine attire, watching for suspicious activity. Don’t call him a guard though: The staff sgt. isn’t official security and does not carry a weapon.
“What this uniform represents, the hope it brings, is larger than any weapon that I would ever need,” Pritchard said.
Rather, Pritchard is there to serve a symbolic purpose, and his presence gives the community a desperately-needed sense of security.
“It’s awfully sad that we’re at this state – that you no longer can feel safe about your children walking into a building. But that’s where we are now,” said Gower Principal Barbara Frazier.
Pritchard is the father of two Gower students, and said that he will stand watch every day at least until holiday break. He’s hoping that other military veterans will follow his example, and show up to the school in uniform to provide an extra sense of security.
Though the Sandy Hook shooting has inspired an often-incendiary debate on policy and violence in the US, it’s inspiring to see one individual very simply and directly providing an apolitical community solution, and an incredibly powerful example.
Here’s a video report, courtesy of WSMV: