It was Friday morning. I was visiting with some longtime friends prior to the beginning of the Illinois Farm Economics Summit in Bloomington.

As the conference was starting, I took my usual seat in the front row and thought about how nice it was to chat with some buddies that I’ve known since my days a couple decades ago as editor of a small town weekly newspaper. They are friendships that I have always cherished, and it was the beginning of what I thought would be a great day.

When the conference ended, I headed to the office to wrap-up my final story for the next issue. However, a day that began with visiting old friends and covering an outstanding conference presented by the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural and Consumer Economics turned grim.

Flipping on the radio, I heard the breaking news out of Connecticut. No, not again.

As details began to come out, it became apparent 20 6- and 7-year-old children were murdered along with six administrators and staff at the school.

Charlotte Bacon, 6; Daniel Barden, 7; Olivia Engel, 6; Josephine Gay, 7; Ana Marquez-Greene, 6; Dylan Hockley, 6; Madeleine Hsu, 6; Catherine Hubbard, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; Jesse Lewis, 6; James Mattioli, 6; Grace McDonnell, 7; Emilie Parker, 6; Jack Pinto, 6; Noah Pozner, 6; Caroline Previdi, 6; Jessica Rekos, 6; Avielle Richman, 6; Benjamin Wheeler, 6; Allison Wyatt, 6; Rachel Davino, 29; Dawn Hochsprung, 47; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Lauren Rousseau, 30; Mary Sherlack, 56; and Victoria Soto, 27, are all gone.

The youngsters began their day with excited anticipation as only first graders can, smiling from ear to ear as they eagerly await the next lesson. It was going to be another great day for students at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was Friday. Christmas is just around the corner.

That all changed when the cowardly murderer slithered out from under a rock and used his own weapons of mass destruction — a Glock 9-mm handgun, a Sig Sauer 9-mm handgun and a .223 Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle.

How much more of this can we take? How many more people are we going to lose through this insanity?

It used to be where we would here news from some distant part of the world killing numerous innocent people and just we’d just push it aside and going on with whatever we were doing. “That’s them, not us,” we would huff.

It’s here. It’s now, and 20-some families in Connecticut no longer have their children.

This is not about red versus blue or Democrats versus Republicans.

The political climate on Capitol Hill, the “threat” of a “fiscal cliff” and all of the other rubbish that comes out of Washington is meaningless by comparison to what happened to these little boys and girls and what has occurred over these last many years on American streets, schools, homes, businesses and places of worship.

It is time that our politicians show what leadership truly is by beginning an adult conversation about what is happening, ignore the pressures from powerful lobbying groups and find real answers, not those that are politically convenient at the time.

If anything else, at least do it for the children, for if we can’t protect the children, we are useless.

As we near Christmas, we should all remember three simple words Jesus said that are most powerful: “Love one another.”