On the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the Westfield grassroots group, “New Jersey Residents For Action Against Gun Violence” in conjunction with the Summit Interfaith Council, will host a candlelit vigil to honor the children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all others lost to gun violence.
The event will be held on Summit’s Village Green Saturday from 4 to 5 p.m.
The ceremony will begin with song by a local youth choir. Reverend Vanessa Southern, senior minister of The Unitarian Church in Summit, will be the host and main speaker. The program will also include remarks by Sheriff Ralph Froehlich of Union County, William Edwards, a Vietnam veteran who was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force, Samuel Arnold, President of the Garden State Funeral Directors Association and a mother who's child was slain on a local playground.
The vigil remembers the 20 first-graders and six teachers who were shot and killed on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
The shooter also killed his mother and himself.
Following the remarks, participants are invited to light candles while founder of New Jersey Residents for Action Against Gun Violence and professional singer Karen Egert of Westfield, performs “Sweet Angel.” The song was written by Egert after the Newtown shooting. A recording of Newtown’s Youth Choir singing “My Beautiful Town” will play after Egert's song and participants will be invited to join in the last verse.
The Vigil is sponsored by the Summit Interfaith Council, which represents most of Summit’s houses of worship; the New Jersey Million Mom March Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; New Jersey Residents for Action Against Gun Violence; Friends Against Violence Everywhere (FAVE); and the national non-partisan group Organizing for Action (OFA).
“I am a mom, and I was shattered on December 14, 2012,” Kathy Allen-Roth, a co-organizer and a member of The Unitarian Church in Summit said. “Almost a year later, I sometimes wonder if I’ll see my son again at the end of the school day. Our vigil is for the Newtown victims, but it is also for the thousands of other children and adults who have died from gun violence.”
Carole Stiller, President of the NJ Million Mom March
Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence echoed Allen-Roth's feelings.
"Certainly our focus today is on the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School and over 30,000 across the country who have been killed by guns since that tragedy, including almost 300 right here in New Jersey," Stiller said. "We must also take this opportunity to inform the public of ways they can help prevent more gun deaths from occurring. And one of those ways is to urge their Congressman to finish the job that the Brady Bill began 20 years ago by passing H.R. 1565, providing for universal background checks."
"As an educator, who taught first and second grade children, my heart aches when I think of those 20 first grade students who lost their lives due to gun violence," Bonita Stevens, the third co-organizer and Union County Chapter Leader of the national non-partisan Organizing for Action group said. "We teachers were trained to protect our students by our school district having monthly drills. And that’s what those teachers were doing, protecting their students."
Free parking for the Summit Vigil is available at the
parking deck on the corner of Broad Street and Summit Avenue. In the
event of inclement weather, the vigil will be held at Central Presbyterian
Additional vigils will be held on the anniversary across New Jersey in Princeton, Newark, Teaneck and Ridgewood. A vigil will also take place in Clifton on Dec. 13.
Churches across the country will ring their bells 26 times starting at 9:35 a.m., according to organizers. The time was when the first 911 call was made from Sandy Hook Elementary reporting an active shooter.
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