AP

Sandy Hook memorial opens nearly 10 years after 26 killed

Nov 13, 2022, 11:05 AM | Updated: Nov 14, 2022, 9:41 am

Flowers lay next to the name of Charlotte Bacon, carved in the stone of a memorial dedicated to the...

Flowers lay next to the name of Charlotte Bacon, carved in the stone of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

(AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Bouquets of flowers floated counterclockwise in the waters of the circular memorial pool, passing the engraved names of the 20 first graders and six educators killed a short distance away at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly 10 years ago.

The long-awaited memorial to the victims officially opened to the public on Sunday, drawing visitors steadily throughout the day. There was no ceremony, in keeping with Newtown’s tradition of marking anniversaries and other remembrances of the shooting with quiet reflection.

“It just takes your breath away,” said Nora Smith, a resident of nearby Monroe who visited the memorial with her husband, Kevin. “It’s something that you hold close to your heart because you feel so bad for these families.”

A path from the small parking lot leads down a hill to the focus of the memorial — a manmade water feature with a sycamore tree sprouting from an island in the middle. The 26 names are engraved in the top of a stone wall supporting the pool. A cobblestone walkway surrounds the feature, its outer ring lined with black-eyed Susan flowers. Other paths lead past a variety of plantings on the grounds.

With tree leaves having fallen, the new Sandy Hook School is now visible from the memorial. The new school was built on the same property, but not in the same footprint as the old one, which was torn down after the shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.

Relatives’ victims were offered a private tour on Saturday. Others, including Jennifer Hubbard, visited earlier by private appointment. Her daughter, Catherine Violet Hubbard, 6, was one of the children who died in the shooting.

“It took my breath away in the sense that to see Catherine’s name and to see what has been created in honor of those that lost … the families, those that survived — they’ve lost their innocence,” she said. “And the community. We all suffered because of Dec. 14.

“I think that the memorial is so perfectly appointed in honoring and providing a place of contemplation and reflection for a day that really changed the country,” said Hubbard, who is now executive director of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown.

Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter, Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, died in the shooting, took to Twitter on Saturday to thank those who worked on the memorial planning for years.

“Ten years. A lifetime and a blink,” she wrote. “Ana Grace, we used to wait for you to come home. Now you wait for us. Hold on, little one. Hold on.”

Several visitors declined to speak with the few reporters present Sunday. Others discussed their thoughts but did not want to give their full names, saying the day was about the victims. Many in Newtown are apprehensive about the rush of media that comes to town every anniversary of the shooting.

“It’s a difficult day,” said a woman, her eyes filled with tears as she returned to her vehicle after viewing the memorial.

Town police officers occasionally stopped by the site, which also has surveillance cameras.

Visitors get their first view of the memorial in the small parking lot, which overlooks the site. Near the beginning of a path that leads down the hill, a plaque welcomes visitors and includes a quote by former President Barack Obama from when he spoke at a vigil in Newtown two days after the shooting.

“Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation,” the Obama quote reads. “I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.

“I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world, too, has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you,” the plaque reads.

Town voters approved $3.7 million for the cost of the memorial last year. Much of the cost was offset when the State Bond Commission approved giving the town $2.5 million for the project.

The project faced several challenges after the town created a special commission to oversee memorial planning in the fall of 2013. Some proposed sites were rejected, including one near a hunting club where gunshots could be heard, and officials cut the cost of the project down from $10 million because of concerns voters would not approve it.

Town officials say the memorial will be open as long as weather permits this winter, and then reopen in the spring.

For Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, the town’s top elected official, the memorial is both a quiet and intense tribute to those killed in the shooting.

“When you’re down in the hollow, at the water’s edge, it has a very peaceful serenity to it,” he said. “You’re standing at this water feature and the magnitude … There’s 26 capstones on the water’s edge, It’s pretty overwhelming.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

2 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

2 days ago

southern Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly...

Associated Press

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury

Closing arguments were made against a southern Arizona rancher accused of shooting an undocumented migrant on his land to death on Thursday.

3 days ago

Donald Trump's hush money trial: 12 jurors selected...

Associated Press

Although 12 jurors were picked for Donald Trump’s hush money trial, selection of alternates is ongoing

A jury of 12 people was seated Thursday in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial. The proceedings are close to opening statements.

3 days ago

A anti-abortion supporter stands outside the House chamber, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at the Capit...

Associated Press

Democrats clear path to bring proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban to a vote

Democrats in the Arizona Senate cleared a path to bring a proposed repeal of the state’s near-total ban on abortions to a vote.

4 days ago

Most Americans are sleepy new Gallup poll finds...

Associated Press

Most Americans say they don’t get enough sleep, according to new Gallup poll

A new Gallup poll found that most Americans are sleepy — or, at least, they say they are. Multiple factors play into this.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Sandy Hook memorial opens nearly 10 years after 26 killed