Ending Gun Violence for a Safer, More Peaceful Nation
As the one-year anniversary of the Newtown massacre approaches, we will take a brief moment to reflect upon the lives lost. This special newsletter also serves as an in memorandum for all those lost to gun violence in addition to the 26 children and educators who were killed on that terrible day.
In the state of Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy requested that on December 14, houses of worship and other organizations will ring their bells 26 times at 9:30 in the morning as a way to honor each life lost on that terrible day. If you live in a different state, you can suggest that your communities do the same.
Following our vigils and moments of reflection, many plan to perform acts of kindness in our communities.
"It's my belief that the best way to honor those we lost is to find again the spirit of compassion and togetherness that we felt in the days that followed the heartbreaking events at Sandy Hook Elementary School," says Gov. Malloy.
"Donate to a local charity, volunteer your time in service to your community or simply come together with friends and family and appreciate the time that we have together."
Read on to view photos of, and reflect upon, those lost on 12/14/12. Then scroll down further to read some very inspirational stories about other family members lost to gun violence: a daughter, a father.
We will come together. We will mourn. And then we will honor those lost to gun violence and renew each other's spirits by volunteering, helping those in need within our communities, and furthering causes that we feel set us on the best course to a joyful, more peaceful future.
The ENOUGH Campaign Team
A Proud Member of the
Newtown Action Alliance
|Poem by Louise Gallagher|
|Allison Wyatt, 6|
|Ana Marquez-Greene, 6|
|Anne Marie Murphy, 52|
|Avirlle Richman, 6|
|Benjamin Wheeler, 6|
|Caroline Previdi, 6|
|Catherine Hubbard, 6|
|Charlotte Bacon, 6|
|Chase Kowalski, 7|
|Daniel Barden, 7|
|Dawn Lafferty, 47|
|Dylan Hockley, 6|
|Emilie Parker, 6|
|Grace Mcdonnell, 7|
|Jack Pinto, 6|
|James Maritoll, 6|
|Jesse Lewis, 6|
|Jessica Rekos, 6|
|Josephine Gay, 7|
|Lauren Rosseau, 30|
|Madeleine Hsu, 6|
|Mary Sherlach, 56|
|Noah Pozner, 6|
|Olivia Engel, 6|
|Rachel D Avino, 29|
|Victoria Soto, 27|
The ENOUGH Campaign lights a candle for each of these angels.
We will remember and honor you.
The father of the youngest victim of the Newtown tragedy talks about life without his son.
by Carol Caffin for Westchester Magazine
"I sent three children to school this morning. Only two returned."
Noah lighting Hanukkah candles on December 13, 2012, the night before he was killed. [photo courtesy of the Pozner family]
That was our friend Lenny Pozner's unimaginably heartbreaking text to us last December 14, after we'd called and texted repeatedly to ask if he and his family, who lived in Newtown, Connecticut, were safe.
to read the whole story.
The following are personal stories from families of gun violence victims. We are deeply grateful to all for sharing these very personal experiences with us.
This article was written for The ENOUGH Campaign by Mary Kay Mace, mother of Ryanne, who was shot and killed in her Northern Illinois University classroom on February 14, 2008.
|Ryanne Mace, age 19|
As I sit down to write this, it just happens to be the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. I have the television on but I'm not tuned into to it. I'm trying to get into "the zone" so I can put into words my thoughts about the impact of gun violence on families and communities. Then the sound of a loud explosion gets my attention. Dateline NBC has started and there is footage about the terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. I watch security camera footage of the shoppers who look startled at first. Next, the unmistakable sound of gun shots begin and everyone in the mall starts running; in response to the sights and sounds I didn't experience firsthand, even months after it happened, my body starts shaking. I start crying when a still picture shows a small girl, who has been huddled in hiding for more than three hours with her mother and sisters, as she leaves cover to cross an expanse of open space into the arms of a rescuer she's never seen nor met. The look of pure terror on her angelic face is haunting. I'm in the zone now, albeit not the one I was seeking, taken to a dark place I wish I didn't know so well. My task temporarily forgotten, it takes longer than it should for me to stop crying and shaking.
"Every parent's worst nightmare." "I can't even imagine." Those are two of the phrases I heard quite often in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. For parents, there is truly nothing more painful than the death of a beloved child. It's heartrending enough to bury a child who passed away from an illness or an accident. There's an added dimension of horror when the child is deliberately slain. Probably the scariest of all, though, is when children are killed by a stranger who never even knew his victims, much less had ever been wronged by them somehow. There's absolutely no way to make any sense of his motive because, let's face it, murdering unsuspecting innocents as they're going about their own business is about as senseless as it gets. How can anyone defend against something like that when there's no anticipating it? And for people like me who can't stand not having an answer to the question of why, it leads to never-ending frustration.
I can't claim to know the exact feelings of the families whose loved ones were the children and educators killed in Newtown a year ago. Sadly, I don't have to imagine too much because I have more of an idea than most people do. My daughter, Ryanne, was the youngest of the five students killed in the mass shooting at Northern Illinois University on Valentine's Day of 2008. A gunman entered the lecture hall where an Ocean Sciences class was about to wrap up. He shot the instructor in the shoulder and then turned his gun on the 100-plus stunned students. Terror ensued. Not everyone who ran made it out of that room.
Having loved ones killed in such a shocking way often leads to intense media coverage. This is a double-edged sword.
|NIU shooting anniversary memorial|
On one hand, there is a tremendous outpouring of support from scores of good-willed people. On the other, it's not easy to avoid being in the public eye during the most difficult time of your life when you couldn't possibly be more vulnerable. Unfortunately, media coverage also brings out some people who are the opposite of "good-willed." Protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church tried to defile my daughter's funeral with their hate-filled messages. My family and I were gratefully relieved that some very thoughtful people creatively blocked the protestors outside of the church from being seen or heard. Good outmaneuvered evil, at least on that day.
Eventually, as time passes, things settle down a bit. The rest of the world moves on and the news media chase other stories. The bereaved, however, are just beginning to fathom the real meaning of "permanence." You keep yearning to get back to normal but there are constant reminders that "normal" is a thing of the past. There's an actual, physical pain and debilitating exhaustion that accompany grief. You have good days and bad days. But even on what you think is a good day, you can have something sneak up - a song that comes on the radio, seeing someone who looks like your loved one, someone innocently asking how many kids you have - that hits you like a sucker punch and can propel you into an uncontrollable crying jag.
That first year after such a loss, each holiday - or any date that used to occasion a special family gathering - is devastating without the one person you miss beyond anybody's ability to measure. You try to tell yourself, "if I can just get through this (birthday/Mother's Day/Thanksgiving/Christmas, etc.), then this will be over." Soon, you're telling yourself "once I get through the one year anniversary, this will all be over." I realize now that was just wishful thinking on my part. Surviving those heartbreaking milestones of the first year may feel like you're getting something out of the way or putting it behind you, but it's still much the same for years number two, three, four . . . the only difference is you know in subsequent years that you can get through it.
I guess that's the message I'd like to give the Newtown families and other people impacted by gun violence (as lame and inadequate as it sounds): you can get through it. You never stop missing your child but you learn how to live with the pain. The pain becomes a part of you, but a far greater part of you is the love you have for your child. That love doesn't just go away because the child has; it's the glue keeping your heart together. You gain strength and refocus on what's really important in life. You no longer sweat the small stuff. You just honor your child's memory and continue to love her every bit as much as you always have. You always will.
The message I'd like to impart to people who can't imagine every parent's worst nightmare is this: don't take your loved ones for granted. Be there especially for your kids. I mean actively be there, not simply present but engaged and interested. From my perspective, what you can't imagine is how lucky you are. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to hug them and talk to them and listen to them. Leave no doubt in your children's minds that you are their number one fan and they are your number one priority. Cherish any time you can get with them, for it's all too fleeting. Take it from someone who knows how it feels to have those opportunities suddenly vanish.
Violence triggers a ripple effect that impacts entire communities. For the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, by all means, remember the victims who died and their suffering families. But please spare a thought for the survivors, the first responders and the Newtown community, as well. The people who were in that school, who experienced abject terror overwhelming all of their senses during the onslaught, have invisible scars indelibly marked upon their psyches. Their suffering is real and far from over. The first responders, those brave men and women who ran toward the danger zone everyone else was trying to escape, saw unimaginable carnage. I'm sure their hearts were already broken as they coaxed the survivors to come out of hiding, trying to reassure them it was all safe. Those first responders will never forget the horrors they saw that day. The larger community was no doubt reeling from shock, wondering how in the world such a horrific thing could happen in the beautiful place they called home. The unthinkable happened to their friends, their neighbors. Those feelings of violation and concern don't just go away.
The city of Newtown doesn't have plans to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the shooting. They have put the word out that what they really want is for outsiders and the press to stay away and respect their privacy. They've earned that right and I can't say that I blame them. What the rest of us need to do is offer up our understanding and support.
We will never forget and we will never stop trying to make the world a better place. That's what we do for love.
Memories of a Father
by Dana L. Horowitz
Some called him Brewer. Some called him Bruce Lee. Others called him Brucie. His name was Bruce Horowitz and I called him dad. His smile would light up a room. He was one of the friendliest and most personable people you would ever meet.
He loved taking hikes, especially at Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, CT, listening to music, photography, sailing with the sun shining on his face, and most of all he loved doing these activities with me, his only child. I was proud to call him one of my best friends.
|Daddy & Me 1992|
On May 1, 1992, my dad turned 46. It was my junior year of high school. He had stopped by my house that morning, (my parents divorced when I was 10), so that I could give him his birthday gift: a photo of us from a photography project we worked on together, smiling and eating cookies. He loved the picture. Little did I know, as I watched my father pull out of the driveway smiling ear to ear that it would be the last time I ever saw him.
Three days later, on the morning of May 4, he was shot and killed, point blank, in his place of employment in Hamden. He was a public insurance adjuster who had a meeting with his supervisor, and their 31-year old client. This client shot and killed my father, and then my father's supervisor with a 9mm gun. A gun he had without a permit. A gun he shot a total of 10 times.
I was eating lunch in the courtyard of my high school when I was summoned and escorted to the principal's office. As I walked in, my heart sank at the sight of my mother in tears; I knew something was terribly wrong .
"Your father was shot and killed at work this morning," she said to me. I was 16 years old and couldn't believe what I was hearing. Could this really be happening in my life? I was in shock.
The immediate days that passed were not easy. Despite my heartbreak and disbelief, this double homicide had become front page news all over New England. On the day of the funeral, local news channels reported directly outside of the funeral home as cars were pulling into the parking lot. Our privacy was lost and our pain was shared with complete strangers. My father's name was in the news for days, as was mine. When I returned to school after a week of mourning, I felt like people looked at me differently, they didn't know what to say. Most said "I'm sorry", but it was never comfortable for them or me.
That morning, my world changed forever. My father became a statistic, another victim of gun violence. Now, more than 20 years later, whenever I read about gun violence at a school, on a university campus, in a movie theater, or just in someone's neighborhood, my heart breaks for the families that lost loved ones. I am angry that someone made a life choice that not only left someone dead, but left a permanent scar on their family and their community. Using a gun to kill innocent people is horrible. No one should have to endure the pain of losing someone they love before a full life was lived.
I now have two children of my own and the hardest question my five year old daughter asked me, which I have not yet honestly answered, was "How did your daddy die?" How do I answer that question? What do I say? A five year old is just a child, an impressionable soul that embraces life with such joy and wonder. I never want to take that away from her. One day she will know the truth, but it won't be for a long, long time.
My dad would have been the best grandfather. He would have taught my kids about trust, equality and love just as he taught me when I was a child. He would have been proud of both of them for all of their large and small successes. He would have made each child feel special and valued as he did for me during the sixteen years he was in my life. My dad was a special man and despite his life being stolen from me, I take comfort in knowing that no one can steal my beautiful memories. Memories live forever.
Volunteer in Your Community!
by Rick Green for the Hartford Courant
Starting in New Britain, CT on Monday, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and members of the Newtown Foundation
and the Newtown Action Alliance
and the Connecticut United Way
plan to launch a week-long program called "Acts of Kindness" to honor the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings.
Community leaders in Newtown have asked that those interested in honoring the anniversary to volunteer in their own communities
On Monday, Esty, Blumenthal and others will read to children at the YWCA in New Britain. Esty and her staff also plan to volunteer throughout the week in advance of the Newtown anniversary on Dec. 14.
The Newtown Foundation will also hold a vigil at the National Cathedral in Washington
on the afternoon of Dec. 12.
In addition to The ENOUGH Campaign's Vigil of Hope on December 12, 2013 in Stamford, Connecticut, please click on the link below to read the list to join a vigil near you.
Opportunities for communities to gather and remember
As the one-year anniversary of the Newtown shooting approaches, we invite you to join us in remembering those who have passed away from gun violence. A special thanks to It Can Happen Here for compiling a comprehensive list of vigils across the nation.
The Transformative Power of Art
Stop Gun Violence NOW Theater Festival
The transformational medium of theater can both help heal and inspire people to action. The Stop Gun Violence NOW Theater Festival is four days of powerful theater centered around the themes of gun violence and gun sense with the goal of creating discussion and inspiring action. Please click on the link above to learn more about their work. All proceeds go to benefit local gun-sense organizations.
And Now It's Time to STAND UP.
|Further causes that you feel set us on the best path to a joyful, more peaceful future. A future without fear.
A future without gun violence.
Here are some things you can do:
- Call your legislators and let them know you are standing up to gun violence. Demand change that reflects stronger, sensible gun laws.
What happened in Newtown on 12/14/12 can happen in any community... and it does. Our friends at Newtown Action Alliance
are asking people to change their hometown in your Facebook profile to Newtown until December 14 in a show of solidarity and to #HonorWithAction
the 30,000+ lost to gun violence each year. Feel free to also align your profile picture to show that We are all Newtown
. Demonstrate how we are all inseparably linked by the epidemic of gun violence in America.
Please also use this image below as your profile picture on your social media accounts to show solidarity with the Sandy Hook families and the Newtown community near and far.
Formed by local moms from Fairfield County, CT just days following the Newtown shooting, The ENOUGH Campaign's mission is to protect our families and our country as we advocate for more public awareness on the issues of gun violence prevention in America. Through legislative advocacy and community education, we champion stronger gun laws and aim to transform public perceptions of gun safety.
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