SHPMC Approves Obama Quote For Memorial Inscription
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission (SHPMC) conducted its first hybrid meeting of the year with members attending in person and via a call-in option, on October 8, to discuss the incorporation of a quote from President Barack Obama into the memorial design.
The commission requested the project’s design firm, SWA, integrate the quote into the memorial plans after originally seeing it used in a submitted design that was not selected.
The quote is meaningful to the members, and to the project as a whole, as it comes from President Obama’s speech at the Sandy Hook Interfaith Prayer Vigil held at Newtown High School on December 16, 2012. The vigil came just two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, for which the memorial honors the 26 children and staff that died.
In recent months, SWA has been giving the commission updates on its progress with the memorial project and it was brought up at the SHPMC’s September 10 meeting that the President Obama quote would be shortened.
Dan Affleck of SWA explained, “The idea would be to create kind of a box, and in that box would be the sacred soil. On top of the box would be a little description about the memorial itself and then the Obama quote. Below that would be a built-in container for candles.”
At the October 8 meeting SHPMC Vice Chair Alan Martin weighed in first by saying he would want to maintain the full quote, because “The integrity of that quote, I think the essence of it, when we abbreviate it, it seems to be taken away.”
Members expressed agreement that they were drawn to the full quote and would prefer it not be modified.
SHPMC Chair Dan Krauss raised a potential concern that if the whole quote was written it runs the risk of people not reading it all the way through.
Ultimately, by the end of the discussion it was clear that the SHPMC members were in favor of including the quote the way they had originally hoped it would be written, which was how they saw it in a previous design submission.
A motion was made and the commission unanimously approved the inscription to read, “Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. 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 remaining portion of the meeting was used to discuss the grammar of the quote, with SHPMC member Sarah Middeleer pointing out that the version of the speech she found includes semicolons where another version brought to the meeting had commas in certain spots.
The SHPMC decided to have a professional editor review the quote to let them know how to punctuate it properly when it is time to be engraved.
To read the full speech by President Barack Obama, visit https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2012/12/16/remarks-president-sandy-hook-interfaith-prayer-vigil. For more information about upcoming Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission meetings, visit https://www.newtown-ct.gov/sandy-hook-permanent-memorial-commission.