Newtown Remembers a Day it Will Never Forget
On the day they simply call 12/14, Newtown, CT, residents will mark the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting of 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School students and six educators.
“Outside, all around town, Christmas lights shimmer again. But so, too, do the 26 bronze stars that sit atop the local firehouse, one for each adult and child,” writes the Associated Press in a one-year follow-up. It reminds us that after the media attention fades, and national gun reforms fizzle out, grief remains. “I miss Avielle more every day,” says Newtown parent Jeremy Richman, who lost his only child.
The impact of gun violence is both lasting and layered: From the endless procession of funerals to the pursuit of advocacy projects to create legacies for loved ones, Newtown residents struggled to move forward. In spring, they debated over whether to raze the school. In fall, Halloween costumes and monsters brought back nightmares for children. In December, the 911 calls were released.
Meanwhile, gun sales surged after Sandy Hook—and school shootings continued nationwide. In August, a gunman armed with an AK-47 opened fire inside a Georgia elementary school, but was thankfully talked down by school administrator Antoinette Tuff. In October, a seventh grader in Nevada killed a teacher and wounded two classmates with a weapon he got from home.
But there has been progress as well: Connecticut, New York, and Colorado were among 21 states that bravely did what Congress could not, enacting new laws to stop gun violence, according to the 2013 State Gun Laws Scorecard. Not coincidentally, states with the most gun laws have the lowest gun death rates nationwide.
And in Newtown, residents prepare for the anniversary of a day they’ll never forget: “For us, it’s not an event,” First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra told the AP. “It’s something we live with every single day of our lives.”