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Crime & Punishment

Surprising Twists to My 'Normal' Day

Police gather in front of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., following yesterday's shooting. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Isn't it strange how a day can start out one way, take a completely different turn, and then end on a completely different note?

Yesterday started out as just a regular day. My big challenge was getting the kids down to the office so I could see them. They are home with a sitter this week because they're between school and summer camp, and we're scrambling for things for them to do. With construction work going on in the house, we kind of want them outside, but the weather is not great, and most of the museums here engage a five-year-old for only so long, so it's been challenging. I wanted them to visit for lunch because I had an evening commitment.

Our Executive Producer Marie Nelson and I were going to see a new play written by Janet Langhart Cohen (former broadcaster, wife of former Defense Secretary William Cohen) that was being staged at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. I was looking forward to seeing the play (we still plan to feature a discussion with Mrs. Cohen about her play and all that's happened on Friday) and, frankly, seeing a number of old friends who were also scheduled to attend.

So I had CNN on, but the sound was down, and then I saw the headline flash: Shooting at the Holocaust Museum ... two shot ...

And I thought,huh? That's ridiculous. Who would do that?

Why does the mind never want to accept such things?

It was all too real, unfortunately, and, tragically, security guard Stephen Johns took the brunt of the attack and died shortly thereafter at the hospital. What an awful tragedy. The alleged shooter, an 88-year-old white supremacist and anti-semite with a criminal record, was wounded by two other guards and is now in custody. There's a quote in the paper from another white supremacist saying, "the responsible white separatist community condemns this. It makes us look bad."

Oh, really?

You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

While I was on my way home, trying to explain to the kids in a way they could understand what had happened and why there were so many police cars downtown, I got a call about a woman who had been on our program two years before when we were just starting out. Her name is Lidia Schaefer and we featured her as an "ordinary Oprah." She is a manicurist who works at a beauty shop in downtown D.C., and she has, with her own money and with the help of others, managed to build and equip a brand new school in Feres Mai, Ethiopia. She is being featured on Larry King tonight as a hometown hero, and the salon, where she has worked for 20 years, is hosting a "watching party" to celebrate her. And, yes, she is still doing nails (but she won't be doing them tonight).

So thanks to whoever's in charge of the universe for ending that sad day on a high note. There are some good things happening in the world. It's important to remember that in times of sorrow.