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By CBS New York Team
/ CBS New York
NEWTOWN, CONN. — Wednesday marks 10 years since a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and took the lives of 20 children and six adults.
Flags in Connecticut were lowered to half staff, as we looked back on the terrible tragedy and remembered the lives lost.
The shooting was more than half a lifetime ago for the children who survived, many of whom are teenagers today.
Keeping with Newtown’s tradition, there were no official town or family ceremonies. Instead, people were asked to mark the tragedy with peaceful reflection.
See live updates below for the latest.
Wednesday, the nation marked 10 years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Twenty first graders and six educators were killed on Dec. 14, 2012.
The Newtown, Connecticut, community continued its tradition of quiet reflection.
At St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, a mass was held for those who died, with prayers for those who survived.
“They saw unspeakable horror, something no one of any age should ever see,” a pastor said.
Now, those who witnessed the unspeakable horror are teenagers who cannot forget.
“There were moments in that classroom where I sat worrying that I would die, worrying that that door would burst open and I would never go home to see my mommy, daddy and my siblings,” survivor Jackie Hegarty said.
“It’s important for children to grow up and live a normal childhood and experience a childhood that I never had because it was taken away from me because of Sandy Hook,” survivor Cyrena Arokium said.
There are 26 names on Newtown’s permanent memorial.
“The water perpetually moving, that sort of never-ending circle, that circle of life,” said Michele Gay, the mother of a victim.
Gay lost her daughter Josephine, who was killed at the school three days after her 7th birthday.
“I literally remember feeling like this grief was gonna swallow me whole,” she said.
The anguish that no parent should ever suffer was repeated over and over.
“At almost every one of these funerals, the mothers delivered the eulogies. And that in itself was just powerful, as they came up to this pulpit and … came up to this pulpit and just stood there and talked about the beauty of their child,” said Msgr. Bob Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church.
“Dylan was this gorgeous little boy with these gigantic blue eyes … He was always smiling and laughing,” mother Nicole Hockley said.
“On the last day of Daniel’s life … I taught him how to play ‘Jingle Bells,'” father Mark Barden said.
One month after Hockley and Barden lost their young sons, 6-year-old Dylan Hockley and 7-year-old Daniel Barden, they helped launch Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit focused on teaching people to notice the signs of trouble.
The group says they have helped stop at least 11 credible planned school shooting attacks in seven states.
They hope that all parents can be part of the solution.
“I want them to look at my son and see their own children in his eyes and think about what can you do as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle to take meaningful action so that this never happens to you,” Hockley said.
In June, Congress passed a law that includes enhanced background checks for people 18-21 and invests money into mental health resources and red flag laws, which allow authorities to take guns from people deemed dangerous.
Legislation against things like assault rifles, however, has gone nowhere.
Ten years after Sandy Hook, and so many other mass shootings, what is the state of gun laws in the United States?
It’s an issue that the parents of many Sandy Hook victims have worked on, in hopes of preventing more massacres.
Click here to read the full story.
Wednesday marks 10 years since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, when 26 people were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
A decade since that day can feel like a lifetime to some and to others, like it was just yesterday.
Flags across Connecticut were lowered to half staff in remembrance of the victims.
It was the worst day in the state’s history. A disturbed young man killed his mother at her home, before going to his former elementary school and shooting and killing 20 students and six educators.
Members of the CBS2 team rushed to Newtown that day and found a community in shock and disbelief.
It happened on a Friday, 11 days before Christmas. There were presents under trees for little ones who wouldn’t be there to open them.
Josephine Gay, known as Joey, had turned 7 three days earlier. Her family had everything set for her birthday party on Saturday.
“I didn’t think I would survive. I literally remember feeling like this grief was gonna swallow me whole. I couldn’t even comprehend how, how we would begin to breath again,” mother Michele Gay said.
Michele Gay says 10 years feels like a significant milepost on a journey that will fill the rest of her days.
“We get, I feel, a little bit stronger, a little bit better, at carrying our cross and managing our feelings. I think we have learned as a family that it’s very much a journey,” she said.
Joey’s name is one of 26 on the Newtown permanent memorial, which opened to the public in time to mark 10 years.
“The water perpetually moving, that sort of never-ending circle, that circle of life,” Gay said.
The memorial is within site of the rebuilt Sandy Hook school and just down the road from the firehouse where families gathered in the heart-wrenching hours after the gunfire.
“You dropped your 7-year-old off that morning and kissed ’em goodbye, put ’em on the bus thinking like every other day they were gonna come home, and it wasn’t meant to be that day,” said Msgr. Bob Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church.
Weiss was a spiritual first responder that day. His church was a place for a grieving community to gather.
Hours after the tragedy, Weiss received a message from then-Pope Benedict, which he shared with the community that Friday night.
“I convey my heartfelt grief, and the assurance of my personal prayers for the victims and their families,” Weiss read.
Over the next week, Weiss presided at funerals for eight of the 20 murdered children.
“Many of the caskets came down with basketballs, American girl dolls, just the things that spoke to that child,” Weiss said.
“At almost every one of these funerals, the mothers delivered the eulogies. And that in itself was just powerful, as they came up to this pulpit and … came up to this pulpit and just stood there and talked about the beauty of their child. It was powerful. It was powerful,” Weiss added.
“It was just a horrific situation for everyone, for a state, for a nation, but most particularly for a mom and a dad and a husband,” then Gov. Dannel Malloy said.
Malloy said he remembers the confusion of that Friday, as 26 families hoped their loved one had escaped, and were perhaps hiding injured in the woods nearby.
At the firehouse, Malloy was told it would take into the weekend to positively ID victims and formally notify families. He decided to end the agony by announcing there was no hope of survivors.
“Because protocols didn’t allow the police to do it, I decided to make that announcement, and I hope I did the right thing,” Malloy said.
“Evil visited this community today,” he said at the news conference.
Ten years later, the pain of that evil is permanent, but not triumphant.
“We’ve found ways to not only stand, but to stand up,” Michele Gay said.
Nearly two dozen different initiatives to honor the victims have touched millions of lives, and made a difference in the world. Michele Gay co-founded the Safe and Sound Schools program with Sandy Hook mom Alissa Parker.
“There’s been a lot of healing in picking something so very unifying and positive as you know, keeping our kids safe,” Gay said.
“We chose to live in the light rather than in the darkness, and to see beyond the darkness, and know that there was going to be light. They’re not allowing the world to forget their child,” Weiss added.
Weiss will lead a memorial mass on Wednesday night, one of the only public events in Newtown on this day each year.
He told CBS2 the grief is profound, but there is enormous pride at how many lives have been touched by the various initiatives that honor the victims — everything from animal sanctuaries to school scholarships.
Good works that are a living legacy.
One foundation is helping provide some moments of happiness by building 26 unique playgrounds to honor the children and educators lost that day.
“It was five or six weeks after the tragedy, and I found myself sitting in the living rooms, dining rooms of families who had suffered the worst day of their life. And, remarkably, they loved the idea,” said Bill Lavin.
The idea that former New Jersey firefighter Bill Lavin is talking about is playgrounds. He would build 26 of them for everyone lost that day, in what was originally called the Sandy Ground Project, now known as Where Angels Play Foundation.
CLICK HERE to read more.
Isaiah Márquez-Greene was just 8 years old when he survived the shooting. His sister, Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, was one of those killed.
Now an 18-year-old, Isaiah shares a moving note to his younger self about his life loss in the “CBS Mornings” series Note to Self.
Click here to read his emotional letter to himself.
Take a moment to reflect and remember the 26 people who lost their lives 10 years ago in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
It has been 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown.
Flags are being flown at half staff across Connecticut in honor of the 20 children and six adults who lost their lives.
Back on Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six staff members in Newtown, Conn. did not return home after a gunman walked into a Sandy Hook Elementary and opened fire.
“It was a decade ago that 26 people were killed at our school. And I think that realization is starting to hit us. Like, ten years. That’s a long time,” said Jackie Hegarty, who was in second grade at the time of the shooting.
Those who survived forever shaped by what they saw, heard and lost that tragic day – over half a lifetime ago for students who survived the shooting exactly 10 years ago, such as Liv Doscher.
“I feel like the further and further we move away from it, the more I feel I’m scrambling to just remember. So I really just think that the way I’m going to cope with that is just making, you know, through people, kind of making sure I’m staying close to my best friend. Making sure when I get home, when I come home for breaks, that I meet up with old teachers that I’m close with,” Doscher said.
Nicole Hockley lost her 6-year-old son Dylan. She says she’s proud to have turned her grief into advocacy. Through her organization Sandy Hook Promise, Hockley says they have prevented 11 school shootings, and hundreds of suicides by training students and educators to report early warning signs of violence.
“I think it’s in the last ten years, one of the the numbers I’ve seen is that we’re at a million people impacted by gun violence. You know, this year alone, I think we’re already over 40,000 deaths. It’s the number one cause of death for children under the age of 19,” Hockley said.
Wednesday morning on the Senate floor, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who represents Connecticut, honored the lives lost while he pushed for stricter federal gun laws.
“As our heart goes out to them this day, we should keep in mind, in our hearts, the need to honor with continuing action. They are doing their job – police, teachers, all of the professionals are doing their job. Congress must do theirs,” Blumenthal said.
Last month, Newtown unveiled a new $3.4 million memorial dedicated to those who died located near the rebuilt Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are speaking about Sandy Hook Elementary School on the Senate floor.
They’re calling on their fellow lawmakers to take action as the nation marks 10 years since the shooting that killed 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, Conn.
CLICK HERE to watch live on CBS News New York.
President Joe Biden released the following statement to mark 10 years since the shooting in Newtown:
Ten years ago today at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, our nation watched as the unthinkable happened. Twenty young children with their whole lives ahead of them. Six educators who gave their lives protecting their students. And countless survivors who still carry the wounds of that day.
We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem. We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again. We owe it to the courageous, young survivors and to the families who lost part of their soul ten years ago to turn their pain into purpose.
A few months ago, I signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. We’ve reined in so-called ghost guns which have no serial numbers and are harder to trace. We’ve cracked down on gun trafficking and increased resources for violence prevention.
Still, we must do more. I am determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America. Enough is enough. Our obligation is clear. We must eliminate these weapons that have no purpose other than to kill people in large numbers. It is within our power to do this – for the sake of not only the lives of the innocents lost, but for the survivors who still hope.
Jill and I are praying today for the Sandy Hook families and the innocent lives lost that day.
May God bless them all.
Jenny Hubbard lost her daughter Catherine in the shooting. Wednesday, she’s breaking ground on an animal sanctuary in her honor.
Hubbard tells Cindy Hsu it’s all part of carrying on her little girl’s dream.
Catherine was six years old when she died. Her mom says she loved animals more than anything.
“She adored them all, she thought that every single one was just to be loved and cared for. She didn’t care if it was a worm in the ground or a butterfly that she happened to collect,” Hubbard told Hsu.
At five years old, Catherine made her own business cards.
“She had created Catherine’s Animal Shelter… Her title was caretaker, and she wanted all of the animals that she encountered just to know that she was kind and they didn’t have to worry with her,” Hubbard said.
In her daughter’s memory, Hubbard started the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown on 34-acres of land donated by the state of Connecticut. She showed Hsu a model of the sanctuary, which will include a vet center for rescue animals and lots of space for children to learn how to care for animals.
While the building hasn’t started yet, educational programming outdoors has already reached more than 140,000 people.
On Catherine’s birthday in June, the sanctuary throws a Butterfly Party in her honor, bringing together families in the community and animal rescue groups.
“Over 700 [animals] have gone home because of Catherine’s Butterfly Party,” said Hubbard.
So 10 years since the tragedy, she honors and recognizes what happened but chooses to focus on what’s ahead.
“As the world is marking what happened 10 years ago, we’re marking what will happen in the next 10, 15, 25 years, well beyond my lifetime is my hope and points us to the future,” she said.
The nonprofit sanctuary has raised more than $6 million in funding, and hundreds of volunteers keep things going.
“When you lose sight of focusing forward, you miss out on all the goodness that has come from that day,” Hubbard said. “I choose not to. We all know how the story ends, and I want to make sure that Catherine’s life stands for something beautiful and what she would love.”
With the groundbreaking, she hopes to start building next spring and open their doors this time next year, if they’re able to raise enough money.
Back on Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six staff members did not return home after a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and opened fire.
“We try to avoid kind of the pressure around the big milestones and the annual day of remembrance for us. But the 10 years is significant. There’s no way around that,” parent Michele Gay told CBS2.
Those who survived were forever shaped by what they saw, heard, and lost that tragic day.
Gay said her 7-year-old daughter Josephine left behind a legacy of joy when she was taken from her 10 years ago.
“I think we have learned as a family that it’s very much a journey and you do have to take stops along the way, take care of yourself along the way. And sometimes you’re doing better than other times, but we are moving forward,” she said. “We’re never moving on. We’re always keeping our little girl, our little sister with us.”
The tragic day was half a lifetime ago for those who were students, such as Liv Doscher.
“I feel like the further and further we move away from it, the more I feel I’m scrambling to just remember. So I really do think that the way I’m going to cope with that is just making, through people, kind of making sure I’m staying close to my best friend, making sure when I come home for breaks that I meet up with old teachers that I’m close with,” she said.
Nicole Hockley lost her 6-year-old son Dylan. She says she’s proud to have turned her grief into advocacy. Through her organization Sandy Hook Promise, Hockley says they have prevented 11 school shootings and hundreds of suicides by training students and educators to report early warning signs of violence.
“It has to become better with fewer shootings. I think it’s in the last ten years one of the numbers I’ve seen is that we’re at 1 million people impacted by gun violence. This year alone, I think we’re already over 40,000 deaths,” she said. “It’s the number one cause of death for children under the age of 19. We’re averaging two mass shootings a day.”
Last month, Newtown opened a new $3.4 million memorial to the 20 first graders and six educators killed. It’s located near the rebuilt Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Former Gov. Dannel Malloy was in office at the time and is now reflecting on the way the town has moved forward since 2012.
“The other children were their child’s classmate, the other teacher or teachers’ aide was their spouse’s friend. Just compounds itself, making it extraordinarily difficult to overcome,” he told CBS2. “But I think so many of these parents have done such an outstanding job of trying to care for a broader society. It really is quite impressive.”
Later this morning, U.S. Senators from Connecticut Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are set to honor the memory of those lost on the Senate floor. They also plan to call on Congress to take further steps to address America’s gun violence epidemic.
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Newtown marks 10 years since Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting killed 20 children, 6 adults – CBS New York
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