On October 16, First Selectman Pat Llodra updated her blog to discuss the town’s plans for the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy. She told The Newtown Bee that the message was intended “for the people and media outside of our community” — those who might want to come and share their sorrow with Newtown, or report on how others in town are handling their recovery.
“Our community is choosing to remember and honor those who lost their lives in that awful tragedy in ways that are quiet, personal, and respectful — centered on the themes of kindness and service to others,” she wrote.
As such, the municipality will not be hosting any townwide event.
Mrs Llodra told The Newtown Bee that “we are all in this together, and we need quiet, personal time to heal that is our choice.” She said that any planned activities should not be directed by others outside the community whose goal is to attract the world’s attention back to Newtown.
Instead, houses of worship and their clergy will offer religious and ecumenical services for congregants; local schools will honor the event in ways that are appropriate for each level of student; and town organizations like Parks and Recreation, C.H. Booth Library, Edmond Town Hall, and Newtown Senior Center will provide remembrances in ways that are appropriate and within their scope of service.
“Newtown has received great kindness and generosity these past 10 months,” Mrs Llodra wrote. “We are grateful and humbled by the expressions of love and support of friends and neighbors from near and far. We ask now for patience and understanding as we approach the first anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School.”
She stated that the community is choosing to remember and honor those who lost their lives in that tragedy in ways that are quiet, personal, and respectful — centered on the themes of kindness, love, and service to others.
“We are wishing fervently that those many persons who wish us well, and the media, will allow us this time to be alone and quiet with time for personal and communal reflection,” she stated. “Our community is committed to creating a long-lasting and sustainable ‘good’ to honor those who lost their lives in a senseless act of violence. We cannot undo the awful happening on that day — but we can choose how we respond to it and that choice could maybe have long-lasting positive effects.”
Mrs Llodra suggested that in the weeks leading up to 12/14, organizations, businesses, families, faith communities, and individuals pledge an act of kindness to one another.
“Maybe this tragedy can serve as a reminder for all families to set aside a few minutes to talk together about the importance of compassionate acts — that those acts become the glue that binds us together in our humanity,” the first selectman wrote. “Maybe some small amount of time can be set aside in school classrooms for appropriate and meaningful discussions about kindness and service.”
She asks town residents to consider the potential of so many thinking the same good thoughts and acting to benefit others at the same time.
“There is great power in a community supporting and believing the notion that each of us can and do make a difference and that it is our compassion and genuine caring for one another that connects us not just in Newtown but as citizens of this country,” Mrs Llodra said.
She is encouraging every resident, young and old, to use the weeks leading up to this anniversary, as a time to formally commit to acts of service and kindness.
“Perform a kindness in honor of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook School; and spend some time in reflection about how our future can be made better for all persons,” Mrs Llodra stated. “We have the opportunity to continue to move toward positive change — there is no greater gift of love than to act on behalf of those whose lives were taken.”
Finally, for those who may choose to recognize the 12/14 anniversary with gifts, Mrs Llodra, on behalf of the community, acknowledged that Newtown has been the recipients of many gifts, beyond measure.
“We appreciate the kindness, but know that others are deserving,” she noted. “We strongly encourage donors to consider needs within their own communities.”
She is directing those who wish to donate money specifically to honor the children and adults who lost their lives on that tragic day to consider the many family funds dedicated to specific causes found at www.newtowncharities.org; select In Memoriam for a list of town-sanctioned organizations to choose from.
“Our town, our schools, our houses of worship, and our municipal organizations, are joined in this statement by Newtown civic, social service, and athletic groups,” she concluded. “Together, we believe that this statement represents the best interest of our community. Thank you in advance for respecting our wishes and our privacy.”
The notice was issued and endorsed by Dr John Reed, Newtown Interim Superintendent of Schools; John Woodall, MD, board certified psychiatrist; Reverend Matt Crebbin, Newtown Congregational Church; and Cody Foss, co-director Newtown Youth Academy.