Hundreds of people gathered at Shipyard Park on Wednesday, December 19, for a candlelight vigil to honor the 26 victims of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. The massacre, which occurred on Friday, December 14, leaving the nation in a state of shock.
Mattapoisett resident Suzanne Barrows began organizing the vigil on Sunday.
“I thought I should get a few friends together to do something. But I realized it should be something open to the whole town,” she said. “It needed to be the whole community. We needed it.”
After she got word of Friday’s shooting, Barrows immediately thought of her own young children who attend school in Mattapoisett where she has filled in as a substitute teacher.
“It’s so hard to grasp. Those kids don’t just belong to Newtown anymore. They are the nation’s kids,” said Barrows.
Residents from Mattapoisett and beyond circled in front of the gazebo at the park as local members of the clergy read prayers and remembrances. Local singing group, the Showstoppers, also sang “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” a song that pleads for love to conquer the ills of humanity.
The first names of the murdered children were read aloud and posters with their portraits bookended either side of the gazebo.
“It’s the saddest thing ever. It’s unimaginable,” said Lynn Bliss, whose daughter sang during the vigil.
“It’s just heartache,” said Sam Ortega, who made the posters for the vigil. “We all have children. It could have been anybody. Being a father of three kids and seeing the parents crying, you really feel for them.”
The incident has sparked new conversations in the US regarding mental health care and gun laws, though the nation is far from coming to agreement on much.
“Tragedies seem to be unavoidable. We have to just do the best we can,” said Ortega.
By Eric Tripoli