Washington, DC Program To Honor Gun Violence Victims

The Newtown Foundation announced Monday, December 2, that four-time Grammy Award winner Carole King will perform at the December 12 vigil in Washington, DC, to honor the more than 30,000 people who die of gun violence every year in the United States.

The National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence takes place Thursday, December 12, from 3:45 to 5 pm, in the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The vigil will follow two days of acts of kindness and volunteerism in schools and shelters by those in attendance, and a session led by Newtown volunteer Eve Ackert at a boys’ school in Washington, DC on Wednesday, December 11, creating Ben's Bells (www.bensbells.org).

Rev Matt Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church and Rev Kathy Adams-Shepherd of Trinity Episcopal Church, and other local clergy, will join clergy from around the country and the National Cathedral, said Newtown Foundation spokesperson Dave Ackert.

“The vigil is an opportunity to deflect the attention that will be on Newtown on the December 14 anniversary [of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School],” said Mr Ackert, “and will serve to draw attention to the bigger issue of more than 30,000 people dying of gun violence every year in our country. People are coming from all over the country to honor this broader problem.”

Two buses will leave Newtown on Wednesday morning, December 11. A press conference will take place upon arrival in Washington, DC, followed by the first evening of acts of kindness. On Thursday, said Mr Ackert, attendees will fan out to further volunteer at area shelters, and to hang Ben’s Bells around the Capitol city.

“The vigil program will move us from remembrance to transformation, and end up in a place of hope and inspiration, with a candle lighting at the end of the program,” Mr Ackert said. “This will be achieved through various litanies from groups who share unfortunate commonalities [of gun violence],” he said. Immediate family members of victims; gun violence survivors turned activists; and children impacted by gun violence will make up those groups.

In addition to Ms King, the World Children’s Choir, based near Washington, D.C., will perform. The Choir will sing “My Beautiful Town,” by Newtown musician Jim Allyn. Organizers also look forward to the reading of a piece composed by poet Maya Angelou for the vigil.

Organizers are hopeful that the 1,000 seats at the National Cathedral will be filled for the vigil, which will be streamed live at a link to be published the middle of the week of December 8, at www.rally.org/vigil. Also at that link will be a means of uploading and sharing pictures of people who have died of gun violence, for possible inclusion in a slide show to be viewed at the vigil.

A limited number of seats on the Newtown buses remain available, and can be reserved at the www.rally.org/vigil site. There is no cost to the bus riders, and food and lodging are provided, thanks to the generosity of donors from around the country. Donations continue to be accepted to offset these costs, at the website.

There is no cost to attend the Thursday afternoon vigil at the Washington National Cathedral, but registration is requested.

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