Newtown city officials are asking the public and the media for privacy this Saturday, which is the first anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in which six staff members and 20 children were killed. During a news conference held on Monday, officials and family members of victims asked that people simply stay away from their town this weekend.
According to Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, the town will not be holding any public memorials and is planning to let residents reflect quietly in their own manner. “We are trying to respect the world’s interest in us, but we also have a real need in our community to gain a foothold,” she explained during a news conference on Monday.
To date, both CNN and USA Today along with other media outlets have indicated that they will not be sending reporters to Newtown this Saturday, December 14. They will, however, offer reports on TV, in print, and across other media platforms on the one-year anniversary.
Llodra has said that she would like the residents of Newtown to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy by committing to acts of kindness and service to charities. Government officials have joined forces with victims of Sandy Hook and the United Way to declare this week an “Acts of Kindness” week.
Various houses of worship in Newtown have scheduled services for Saturday in order to provide their followers with a place to silently commune and reflect of the events of a year ago.
In the Roman Catholic Saint Rose of Lima church, which hosted eight of the funerals for those killed, doors will be kept open for 24 hours in order to allow people a place to pray. The church plans to dedicate a memorial arch to the victims and to ring peace bells in their honor.
Rev. Robert Weiss stated that there are several families who, even in the light of the town asking for privacy, intend to leave Newtown for the weekend so that they and their children do not have to go through the pain of reliving the shootings while the anniversary is marked.
Fourteen families of Sandy Hook victims speaking today at a press conference related their intent to light candles in their loved ones’ memories. They acknowledged that the shooting has forever altered their lives and made it clear that they are very grateful for the worldwide support they have received. They also announced that a new website has been established at MySandyHookFamily.org for the 26 families that lost loved ones in the shooting.
The new website asks that the public understand that the families of each victim are grieving and working through the tragedy in their own unique ways. The website will give those who wish to communicate with other victims’ families a chance to do so while still maintaining their privacy.
For his part, Florida representative Ted Yoho is planning to host a “Family Firearm Safety Event” on Saturday. According to Yoho’s spokesman, the safety event was not timed to occur on the same day as the Sandy Hook anniversary.
It was the morning of Dec. 14, 2012 when the shooter, Adam Lanza, shot his mother to death in their home and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary, where he killed another 26 people. Lanza later killed himself at the school. The killing of 20 elementary school children made the mass shooting seem even more horrific. Hopefully, Newton will be granted the privacy for which it is asking in order to mark the anniversary as each person touched by the tragedy sees fit.
By Jennifer Pfalz