Will You Ride the Train?

ImageA few summers ago my wife Amie and I took our boys to Washington, DC for our family vacation. Everyone should get to DC. It’s such a great city, and the sense of history and patriotism you feel there is indescribable.

Our hotel was outside the city, and we rode the Metro into town each day for our activities. That summer was one of the hottest on record—near or over 100 degrees every day we were there.

One particular day we spent walking all over the city seeing all sorts of sights. By late afternoon we were hot, tired, hungry, and ready to ride the Metro back to the hotel for a dip in the pool and some dinner.

We walked into the Metro station and bought our fare cards, then had to ride an escalator down to the loading platform. My youngest son, Matthew, was first on the escalator. I was directly behind. Amie and Isaac pulled up the rear.

As we got about halfway down the escalator I could see our train arrive. The doors opened as people piled off the train. At this point we were near the bottom of the escalator, and when we reached the bottom I hurried Matthew onto the train.

I turned around to see Amie and Isaac still coming down the escalator, and then turned back to the train to see Matthew on board.

Then I saw the doors start to close.

Instinct took over and I jumped between the closing train doors. They sort of smashed me in my ample belly, and I was able to squeeze through to get on board. I looked out the window to see Amie and Isaac still standing on the platform as our train pulled away.

A few text messages later, Amie and I figured out that Matthew and I would get off at the next stop and wait for the others to catch up with us.

The rest of the ride was silent.

I’m not sure what was going through everyone else’s minds, but what was going through mine was the terror of almost having been separated. But more than that, I was thinking how terrified Matthew would have been had he been alone on that train.

We have kids alone on the train every day in American schools. These are kids who come from backgrounds of poverty, or abuse, or neglect. These are kids who have lost parents, who haven’t eaten, who spent the previous night taking care of their little brothers and sisters because there was no adult at home.

Imagine the fear these kids have, these kids who are alone on the train. They do not have the support system so many of us take for granted. And for so many of these kids, a good education is their only chance at a healthy, happy life.

These kids are alone on the train, and they so desperately need us to ride with them. Will you hop on board?

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