Six large penguins, twenty small penguins...
It was up the hill and through the woods on the drive to Sandy Hook. Along the way, in a vastly wooded area, my friend and I were passed by in the opposite lane by a long funeral procession. We could not help but wonder if the hearse was carrying one of the elementary school victims. When we finally arrived in Newtown, not far past the sign was a gathering of 26 angels, all hand-painted on block of wood painted blue, and held up by posts. It was the first of several spontaneous groupings of angels, flags, teddy bears, all in honor of those lost.
We knew we were there when traffic slowed to a crawl, then a standstill. There were many, many cars. We came across a makeshift memorial that blossomed at one corner and spread out, and across the street on a grassy hill. Despite the congestion, there was an almost reverential quiet that pervaded. No one honked their horns, people waited their turns. Police from different towns were directly traffic. There were small groups of people singing Christmas songs.
I’ve seen photos of memorials from other tragedies, and have driven past more tiny memorials along the road where people have died in car accidents, but I’ve never seen such a large collection of flowers, stuffed animals and more. Seeing them in ph fsotos or television does not have the impact of actually being there.
There was a tented area, with Christmas trees inside, and stuffed animals, candles and more. I placed the large votive candle I had amongst another group. I lit the candle, and relit some others as the wind may have extinguished their flames. The Christmas trees were adorned with photos of the children and their teachers and much more.
It is unfathomable that in a town so quiet, so ordinary, that such a tragedy could occur.
Despite the bitter cold, we saw people young and old, from all walks of life, bringing stuffed teddy bears and flowers to lay down at the memorials. Two young women brought an almost lifestyle Santa statue, a Santa that had held a list of the names of all the Sandy Hook students who perished. We ran across a man who came down from Boston to pay his respects as well. I met one of the comfort dogs that people could pet. I ran across an older couple who brought a candle to light, but their lighter failed, so I got out my box of kitchen matches and kept striking them until did not get blown out by the wind.
I can only hope some good can come out of this tragedy.