NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Dan Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman are directing U.S. and Connecticut flags to fly at half-staff on Saturday in honor of the 20 children and six adults who were killed a year ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Malloy said flags should fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday.
Malloy has encouraged citizens to perform an act of kindness and has asked houses of worship and other organizations to ring
their bells 26 times Saturday at 9:30 a.m. as a way of honoring the lives lost in the shooting.
One year ago Dec. 14, Adam Lanza shot his mother in her bed, blasted his way into Sandy Hook, killed six educators and 20 children and then killed himself.
The massacre in Newtown sent a community and nation into mourning, provoked new security measures in schools, and left the nation even more deeply divided over the issue of guns.
It’s been a painful and frenetic year for all of Newtown.
From horror came despair and, soon, attempts at moving beyond one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings. There were the logistics of recovery and decisions about whether to raze the school where so many perished.
The Labor Day parade marched on, and as foliage turned red and yellow, small survivors filed back into school with their parents’ shaky assurances they would be safe.
Now, with winter on their doorstep once again, the people of Newtown are bracing for the day everyone there simply calls 12/14.
“For us, it’s not an event. It’s something we live with every single day of our lives,” says Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra. “We can’t change what happened to us, but we have a choice in how we respond.”
To avoid drawing more media attention, they decided not to hold any formal remembrances. Llodra and the victims’ families have also urged people to mark the date with acts of service and kindness.
“We can’t go through that again, really. We’re a small community. This is a large burden for such a small community to carry,” Llodra said. “We were overrun with people. I think there were more visitors to our town in that 10 days than we have people who live in the town. It completely collapsed the economics of that region because the media was so impactful.”
As the anniversary nears, a mother who lost her son at Sandy Hook is hoping to keep momentum behind the issue of gun violence.
On the dark days, Nicole Hockley said she leans on a mother’s strength and love, community support and the messages that are still coming in from strangers she will never meet.
“That really helps you stand up on the days when you don’t really want to get out of bed,” Hockley told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.
Hockley and Sandy Hook Promise are hoping Parent Together resets the conversation on gun violence.
“We’re really looking at solutions around mental wellness, gun safety and community connectedness at a community level, not by a law telling us what to do,” said Hockley. “For me, it’s about keeping Dylan alive and to give him a positive legacy associated with change that saves the lives of others.”
As she marks one year without her son Dylan, she thinks of the birthdays and the holidays he’s missed. She said it’s been an entire year of firsts.
“One year since I last held him and touched his hair or heard him speak,” Hockley told Murnane. “Every single day is just another day without Dylan.”
Teacher Victoria Soto’s younger sister Carlee has also kept up the push for gun control reform in the year since the shooting rampage.
She, too, said marking this somber anniversary will be tough.
“Every day is equally just as bad,” she told Murnane.
Before Saturday’s anniversary, townspeople plan to gather in a park for the annual tree lighting ceremony.
They will do what they’ve done for a year: balance trying to remember with wanting to forget and help one another cope with seasons’ worth of grief few outsiders can fathom.
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