GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Wednesday marks a decade since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.
Twenty-six people were shot and killed on Dec. 14, 2012. Most of them were children, just six and seven years old. The other six were adult staff members who tried protecting the children.
On Sunday night, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in downtown Grand Rapids paid tribute to the victims.
“It is a horror that shakes us to this day,” said organizer Jane Whittington of Moms Demand Action. “We wept with the parents, families and loved ones of the murdered.”
The church held a vigil and read the name of each life taken too soon.
“I hope people will remember these children and remember the adults who tried to protect them,” Whittington said. “And continue to vow that we cannot allow this to keep happening in our country.”
The children killed at Sandy Hook would have been 16 and 17 years old today.
“They would be in their junior year in high school,” Whittington said. “They would be playing sports, marching in the band, learning and growing, looking forward to prom and graduation and college. They’re not. They’re gone.”
Rev. Christian Brocato preached the importance of pausing together, remembering those we’ve lost and listening to one another.
“It happens so regularly now that I think we are kind of numb to it,” Brocato said. “And yet there’s still people losing their lives.”
“Faith communities are just heartbroken every time we hear these terrible shootings,” Brocato added. “We have moments of silence and prayers and it doesn’t seem to stop.”
Those who attended the service remembered exactly where they were 10 years ago when they found out about the tragedy at Sandy Hook.
“I was in the car,” Whittington said. “And I remember when it came on the news, it was unbelievable. I couldn’t imagine such a thing happening. We all felt after this, things would start to change. But they haven’t changed as much as they ought to.”
Denise Martin, who was shot inside her home nine years ago, spoke out about the pain she’s gone through. For Martin, the trauma never goes away.
“It’s like it’s all over again,” Martin said. “Little things will trigger it. And then I’m back where I started.. It’s just a life-long struggle. It’s a never-ending story for me. I don’t just heal and then I’m okay.”
Martin also lost her son to gun violence in 2002.
“He was 20 years old,” Martin said. “He was in the car driving back from the beach in Chicago, and someone shot up the car.”
Amidst pain and suffering, a song of hope filled the parish. The Northview High School Choir sang “A Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel, a song about overcoming trying times.
“If we don’t have hope, we don’t have anything,” Brocato said. “So we have to hope for a world where there will be no gun violence. Where there will be peace. This is the season of peace for us in the Christian tradition as we face Christmas. … In our fractured world, peace seems more and more elusive. But we still have to be people of hope.”