Alumna’s encouragement leads to vice presidential response

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 4:15:00 PM

In addition to her work as a faculty advisor for professional development and licensure at Stritch, Barbara Rankin, ’00, is a part-time reading specialist at Milwaukee’s Downtown Montessori Academy. In this role, Rankin has the opportunity to converse with children on a daily basis. She never imagined, however, that one of these conversations would gain national attention.

After the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Rankin was eating lunch with a 7-year-old second grade student named Myles. Sandy Hook and gun violence had been in the news for the last few weeks, and the young student had begun to consider how to make the world a safer place.

Myles told Rankin his idea; the United States should only sell bullets that were made out of chocolate. That way nobody would get hurt.

With Rankin’s encouragement, Myles wrote the idea down and sent it to U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Obama.

Moore responded, but after a few months passed, Rankin and Myles thought their other letters had been lost or forgotten. Then one morning in May, an envelope arrived at the school’s main office from Vice President Biden.

Buzz spread quickly through the school that Biden had personally responded to Myles’ letter. The vice president’s office confirmed its authenticity.

Biden letter

Rankin hadn’t even considered the possibility of a personal, handwritten response.

“The best case scenario would be that Myles received a form letter from Vice President Biden or President Obama before school was out for the summer,” Rankin said.

The handwritten note on the vice president’s official stationery says:

“Dear Myles,
I am sorry it took me so very long to respond to your letter. I really like your idea. If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate.

You are a good boy, 
Joe Biden”

Rankin said that Myles has enjoyed the spotlight, but he is ready to get back to his normal routine at school…that is, unless Biden responds to Myles’ follow-up request; an invitation to lunch at the White House.

“We will just have to wait and see what transpires,” said Rankin. “This has been an exciting ride for both Myles and myself!”

Myles’ story has been covered in local and national media. Click on the links below to view media coverage.

The Associated Press