Christmas in Newtown, Connecticut

The ancient Mayans are right: The world ends this week. That doesn’t mean I’m not making plans for any event beyond December 21st. In fact, my family just decided that we will be spending Christmas in Newtown this year. But the world as we knew it must end. And I’d like to thank 26 heroes for showing us why.

In 1985, my family moved to Newtown, Connecticut. I attended fifth grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I recall the giant green footprints that were painted on the street from Riverside Road up to the school’s entrance; I remember Mrs. Paige, my fifth grade teacher; and I recall my friends—carefree, learning, trying to be cool—exactly the way elementary school kids are supposed to be.

I am forever a part of that school and town, and it is forever a part of me. I share a kinship with every person who was a student there, who taught there, who walked those halls, and who had a connection with the building. If you were to draw a line between all of those people and all who knew them, it would include a community of millions of human beings. I’m not only saddened by the atrocity that took place at my old grammar school, I’m broken… and ready to be rebuilt.

It’s been surreal watching 24×7 television news plastering images of my childhood everywhere. The police press conferences are being held at Treadwell Park, a place where I’ve played in hundreds of soccer games. St. Rose of Lima Church is the church where I was confirmed. Sandy Hook center is an intersection I’ve driven through thousands of times. That firehouse and school—less than one mile from the house I grew up in, and the house where my parents still live—are landmarks that we passed almost every time we went anywhere. I can’t help but feel naked and vulnerable as the world peers into my hometown.

But since the world is watching, that amazing community has an opportunity to make a stand and say something both comforting and profound here at the end of the world.

It took 26 angels—most of them young children—to accomplish what no single person could have done alone. They made the world stop turning. They made all of humanity pause. They forced us to ask ourselves, “What’s really happening to us?” The ancient Mayans may have predicted the end of the world this week, but these 26 heroes fulfilled it.

These angels all have names: Charlotte Bacon, age 6, Daniel Barden, age 7, Rachel Davino, age 29, Olivia Engel, age 6, Josephine Gay, age 7, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, age 6, Dylan Hockley, age 6, Dawn Hochsprung, age 47, Madeleine F. Hsu, age 6, Catherine V. Hubbard, age 6, Chase Kowalski, age 7, Jesse Lewis, age 6, James Mattioli, age 6, Grace McDonnell, age 7, Anne Marie Murphy, age 52, Emilie Parker, age 6, Jack Pinto, age 6, Noah Pozner, age 6, Caroline Previdi, age 6, Jessica Rekos, age 6, Avielle Richman, age 6, Lauren Rousseau, age 30, Mary Sherlach, age 56, Victoria Soto, age 27, Benjamin Wheeler, age 6, and Allison N. Wyatt, age 6.

These fine human beings caused billions of extra hugs in recent days. They started dialogues that need to happen. They woke up a town, a state, a nation, and a world to what really matters. They did not die in vain. It’s our duty as humans to carry on their legacy.

The person who won’t be named is the shooter. Names belong to people. He doesn’t deserve his. The 26 angels are all that matter.

But the shooter also had his role to play. It took only one monster to remind me that people are good, kind, and selfless. Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

There was only one monster Friday morning, but hundreds of helpers who ran in—and those are just the first responders. As word spread, you had thousands then millions more who pledged prayers, support, and money to help in any way they could.

Even in the darkest corners of this tragedy, we find light. The word “hero” is thrown around too much today, but already we have heard stories of true heroism from Sandy Hook. Victoria Soto, a first grade teacher, thought quickly when she heard shots fired in her school. She hid all of her students in closets and cabinets. When the gunman entered her classroom, she told him her kids were in the gym. The coward then shot the defenseless teacher. She was quick-thinking, brave, and selflessly traded her life for those of her students. That is a hero. We should name towns and streets after her. No amount of honor will ever be enough. Each of her students will be greater people because of her. They will guide us into this brave new world.

On Sunday, President Obama visited my quiet hometown to help console the victims’ families and a grieving nation. While it was right for him to do so, it saddens me that any United States president would have ever even heard of my little town.

As one of my high school friends pointed out in his Facebook post, “The last time shots were fired like this in Newtown was during the Revolutionary War when Rochambeau’s army took practice shots at weather vanes.” This stuff doesn’t happen in Newtown. It shouldn’t happen anywhere.

Of all of the human emotions, “helpless” is the worst. If there was something I could build, I’d build it; something I could fix, I’d fix it; something I could break to undo this, I’d break it. For now, all I can do is pray for those who need our support the most.

When the prayers have been said, and the condolences offered, next I will focus this energy on myself, on my family, and those around me. I can be more active in my community. I will try to right the tiny wrongs I encounter in my everyday life. I can hug and appreciate my five-year-old daughter a little more each day. That is a gift 26 angels gave to me on Friday.

I moved away from Newtown after college. But I’ve never lost touch. My parents live there, as do my sister, my uncle, and so many friends. Today as I write this from my office in Massachusetts, I’ve never felt so close to, yet so far away from my hometown. I’ll be there for Christmas because there’s no place on Earth where hope could shine any brighter. There’s no town or village that understands the word “community” better than Newtown. This is a place that comes together to help each other in times of need. They’re strong in their faith, conviction, and spirit. And that’s what this holiday is supposed to be about.

I can’t help that the name Newtown will become synonymous with this tragedy. But as the world watches, may they see the light that shines out of every person who shares the unimaginable pain of our neighbors who lost a child, a parent, a spouse, or a friend. Long after the cameras are off and the news vans pull out of town, that light will continue to glow thanks to 26 angels and so many heroes who reminded the world of our humanity.

Yes, the world as we know it has ended, which makes this a time for new beginnings. I’ll work each day to make this new world a better place than the old… and Mom and Dad, I’ll be in Newtown for Christmas. Newtown is home.

 

Jeff Belanger is a member of the Board of Directors at the Newtown Memorial. Please donate at our Web site:  http://newtownmemorialfund.org/ and like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NewtownMemorialFund

Donations for the families can also be made here: https://newtown.uwwesternct.org/

This organization is also accepting donations for the families and survivors: http://www.MySandyHookFamilyFund.com

80 Comments

  1. (((JEFF)))
    So beautifully written!
    I know exactly how you feel!

    Thoughts and prayers are with all affected by this tragedy!

    • Heather O'Brien

      You have just expressed what I was trying to say these past few days. From your personal perspective it carries so much stronger in that you know these exact places and people personally. I believe that they did not pass in vain and the world will change for the better, people will be better people, because of how they passed. I wish this on no one and send love and light to all the families , friends and loved ones affected. I guess that means to the whole world. GOD BLESS.

    • Jen Girardeau

      Amen Jeff. Well written and each and every one of those 26 are definitely heroes in my book. God Bless each of the families and friends affected by this horrible senseless tragedy. You will all be in my heart and my prayers always!

    • Lianne & Eno Migiano

      You have put into words, so beautifully, what so many of us are feeling and thinking about this tragedy in Newtown. We, too, are former residents of almost 4 decades who raised four children – all of whom attended and graduated from Newtown schools. The town is wonderful and the schools are exceptional. This tragedy cannot be allowed to change that….

  2. Thanks to you and your hometown, I will hold Newtown synonymous with hope instead of tragedy.

  3. Awesome Jeff, I’m so proud of you

  4. I know this wasnt easy.. my heart breaks over this..

  5. Gail Ninkovich-Anoe

    Jeff,
    Incredibly written straight from your heart. God Bless You, your family, your old neighborhood & neighbors. God has his arms around 26 angels on this Christmas as the nation cries. No we will not say the name of the evil person. As you stand in your church on Christmas know that you stand with the prayers of many. My heart hurts. The tears flow. No, we won’t forget. As a parent who’s lost a child I know grief can break you. These parents & families will stand united together in their grief & grow strong. Newtown is crying & the nation feels the pain. God Bless your lil town. Give Sophie an extra hug from me.
    Sincerely,

  6. Robyn Jessop

    As a mother of 3 young children I cant begin to describe the pain and sorrow I feel for these victims and their families. Thank you for writting this article, for giving the readers an inside look at this beautiful community. I agree how unfortunately people will always associate Newtown with “That gruesome tradgety on 12/14/12″, but I for one will always remember Newtown for its bravory and the Heroes that saved more lives then people know. The way this community has pulled together to support each other warms my heart. It hits hard being so close to home as I am a life long resident of R.I., Conn. is my neighbor. I feel like there is nothing I could possibly do to make any of these people feel better but I hope they do know how many of us are thinking of them and wishing we could help take their pain away. I cant come up with any words to describe how deeply sorry I am for their loss and I will forever remember those 26 angels.

  7. christina ottman

    Thank you for sharing Jeff

  8. Jeff, thank you so much for sharing your private thoughts on such a heart-wrenching matter. I know this was difficult to write, but your words speak the truth and are beautiful. I have been thinking of you a lot the last couple of days. I appreciate your outlook and positive nature. Newtown is lucky to have you as one of their own.

  9. You have expressed what I feel. Thank you, Jeff.

  10. Janice Oberding

    Eloquent and heartfelt, Jeff…

  11. Rebecca

    This is wonderful. I was in Mrs. Paige’s class with you. Thinking of all my classmates right now. I too will look at life differently and try to make the world a better place. We all should, and MUST.

  12. sian beddoe-stephens

    it has been impossible to know how to feel lately, let alone find the words to tell anyone else. thank you, jeff belanger, for making such sense to me today.

  13. Dick Greenwood

    Very well done Jeff. You and your Mom have got the gift of expression.

  14. Jeff, thank you so much for sharing things from your perspective, as someone who has a close connection with Newtown. I think I can speak for most of us here when I say the hearts of every parent in this country are broken. Just still so hard to believe there could be such evil in the world, but seeing your community come together and the heroes of that day that saved so many children gives me hope that there is way more good than evil. God bless

  15. Maureen Madden

    Thank you Jeff! This is beautiful and how I feel as well. May your gorgeous little town that I know so well embrace all the love and prayers we all are sending to it. Well written. Hoping you and your family a blessed Christmas.

  16. Leslie Irwin

    What wonderful, heartfelt sentiment. This tragedy has really affected me. I feel the pain of all involved in this horrible action. Your words ring true. We must make sense out of all this. My wishes go to you and your family – to somehow share this holiday that is upon us and help all of us to move forward to make this world a better place.

  17. Newtown is my hometown too. Like you, I moved away after college and still have friends and family in the area. Even after living half my life somewhere else I still consider Newtown as home. I thought maybe it was just me, but now maybe I think its Newtown.

  18. My God Blessed all their undefensive souls, and my prayers go to all the parents and families living this tragedy… my heart is broken </3 GOD BLESS AMERICA

  19. Thank you for writing this Jeff.

  20. This is an amazing, inspiring and heartfelt piece. What a gloruious showcase of the true nature of our human spirit — not the monster in us, but that which is on us that shines most brightly: Hope and compassion. I’m so sorry this happened in your hometown. I’m from Montana originally and I can only imagine how surreal that would be to see my little town on the news. I agree that the world as it is needs to end, and what better place to start anew than NEWtown, home of 26 Angels. May you and your family have a beautiful Christmas together, and may your community in Newtown be strengthened and united in the knowledge that the world’s love is with you all.

  21. Veronica

    wow this is so beautifully written.. such a tragedy… so many innocent lives lost.. R.I.P.

  22. Wow tht was beautiful:)

  23. Very well sad Jeff…such a tragedy for the children, adults and the families…RIP

  24. Melissa

    This is so beautifully written and is the ONLY thing I have read or seen in the last few days that really makes sense to me. My deepest sympathy for the children who survived, the staff that protected, the families and the entire community. 26 angels that I never knew in life have changed me forever…they shall not die in vain.

  25. Christine W.

    Thank you for this beautiful blog. Your words melted my heart. We do need to remember the 26 angels who will always be our heroes. Just know that Newtown will get through this. It just might take a lifetime, because we will never forget.

  26. Brittany

    The world will end on the 21st. It would be the end of selfishness of humanity and hopefully the beginning of a brand new kind hearted humanity that would would never think to raise a hatred hand to others. Jeff this written beautifully and these 26 angels will never be forgotten and their spirits will always be alive in our hearts

  27. Justin Osuch

    Jeff that was so well written and you have put what i have been feeling into words! I also grew up in Newtown and went to Sandy Hook Elementary School and my heart just breaks for our community! Even though I no longer live there Newtown has always been home .God Bless these little angels ,All the heroes all the first responders, all the parents, grandparents ,siblings, they will never be forgotten and will always be in my heart .Newtown has always been a strong community and even stronger now .

  28. Karen Rasmussen

    Thank you for such a gift to a grieving nation, town, and those who are grieving the angels they love. You helped me start to heal so I imagine you did the same for countless others.

  29. That was beautiful. My heart and prayers go to all families effected and the town of newtown and the school. This should have never have happened. May god rest their souls and be in peace

  30. Victoria

    Beautifully written. You moved me to tears.

  31. Beverly Elliott

    God bless you Jeff!

  32. I Totally Agree With Ya Jeff !

  33. Wonderfully written. Thank you so much for sharing.

  34. Trish Kirrane West

    What an eloquent and beautiful tribute to our hometown. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  35. Nancy Knoll

    So perfectly written. Thankyou for sharing yr thoughts with us all. God Bless all the families of Newtown.

  36. Amanda Sensebaugh

    That is really good it made me cry. But it brings out the truth that many of us might not realize.

  37. Beautifully said Jeff. It’s hard to explain to someone looking in what kind of town we really grew up in. This helps. Have a beautful christmas with your family in Newtown this year.

  38. Amanda Kay

    That was beautifully written. I am in tears right now. We are mourning with all of you. Sending thoughts and prayers to everyone in that community!

  39. Steven B Taylor

    Wonderfully worded. As the nation mourns the loss of the 26 angels in Newtown, these are exactly the type of words that are needed.

  40. Thank you so much for helping me feel less lost, less restless. Maybe this incident WAS the end if the world as we know it. Maybe this event will help this world become a kinder place. The end of the world might also be the beginning, of another, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Maybe that’s what the Mayans saw.

  41. Amazing piece. My heart,and my prayers go out to everyone in that community.

  42. Amazing read. Thoughts and prayers to everybody in that town. Big hugs. Merry Christmas Jeff and enjoy your time going back home.

  43. I love to read your writing, but of course, this is not what I would have wished to read. I’m glad I did read it because you have helped me set my mind straight about how to honor these angels. I am a kindergarten teacher with no children of my own. I am so very blessed to have 21 awesome babies that accidentally call me mommy five days a week. Friday, we heard the horrifying news and the first thing we did was hug our kids and tell them that we loved them all. I dread going to school tomorrow and the possibility of having to talk about it with the kids. Hopefully, they won’t know. I will honor those 26 angels by being a vessel of loving light that shines for all and especially, the little ones in my care. I made a list of the 26 angels and I plan to keep it in my room to remind me of why I am here and what I need to do. Thank you, Jeff. Hug your baby and enjoy your Christmas.

  44. Joyce Lister

    You eloquently put into words the emotions that I feel. In my belief system, we write our own life chart before we leave heaven. We chose our parents, our life challenges for the elevation of our souls. With that in mind, I believe that these souls knew the sacrifice that were to make in order to be a catalyst for a greater good. The world has stopped. The world knows that all they have to offer is their love. I believe that the vibration of love and conscientiousness is the highest that I have ever seen. I thank my young brothers and sisters and shall honor them when we are together again.

  45. Brandon Klein

    Amazing blog Jeff! – I’m a tough guy, but I cried when I heard the news. I’m currently a senior in high school and a pre-school teacher. I have a strong connection with the kids I teach. I don’t know how I would be able to live with myself if something like this were to happen to my students.

    For about a month now i’ve worn a pink hairband around my wrist. I found it in my classroom. None of the kids took claim to it, so i kept it. To me it represents lost, raped, killed, and forgotten children. It was a forgotten hairband with no home and it just shows that i will never forget forgotten souls.

    My future goals include becoming an elementary teacher and continue to help spirits with my investigative group: Gateway Paranormal Team. I would of put my life down for any of those kids and I will pray that something like this will never happen again.

    Your quote – “Of all of the human emotions, “helpless” is the worst.” Is so right in this situation. I want to go to Newtown, but i can’t. But, i believe it’s our obligation to do something. I will be donating money to the memorial fund and will be making a memorial video for those who lost there lives.

    ===============
    People, enjoy your life. But, always remember that it could end in an instant. Live your life well and strive to make this world a better place. A place where something like this will never happen again.

    RIP Angels!

    • Cari Lish Gutelius

      Thank you,
      I too will be home for Christmas and as always, proud to be a hooker, a Sandy Hooker!

  46. Barbara Dorry

    Beautifully said, Jeff. We have heard from our kids, and their friends. It affects everyone “who ever loved a child” as the Today co-host said. It hurts that the memories so many share of wonderful events at Sandy Hook School, now are tainted by the horrible actions of one person. It hurts to have every major (and minor) media send representatives to our little town. It is so lovely here, but that’s not why they are here. Let’s hope those angels are the impetus to major changes. Thank you for putting the thoughts of many into such beautiful prose.

  47. David Robertson

    Well said, Jeff.

  48. Jennifer

    Thank you Jeff for putting into words what I have been feeling since I learned the news on Friday. I, too, was a student in Mrs. Paige’s 5th grade class. I watch the reports of this event frI’m two points of view simultaneously, as a former student and as a parent. The years seemed to melt away in an instant and all our hearts were breaking in those hallways. God bless them and their families.

  49. Ed Dorry

    Jeff, this was a beautiful and eloquent message that would be a source of comfort to all who get the chance to read it, especially those in Sandy Hook.

  50. I can’t even begin to think about the losses that people there have had. But 4I love the way you wrote this article. You can feel the love you have for your hometown and the people that live there. And you can feel God in every word that you write. I pray for everyone in Newtown, CT. And I pray for you and your family and everyone out there. Yes, we need a new world and yes I believe it all begins now. God Bless everyone and our prayers are with you.

  51. Jeff -

    Well said. From even the darkest tragedies, you can teach with your words and lead the way with your light!

    It’s a pleasure to know such a good person.

    Wishing you a heartfelt Christmas with your family in Newtown.

    Best wishes – Jody M.

  52. Mike Gauthier (@MikeGauthier34)

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Jeff. A most special place is Newtown, because of all the amazing people who will always call it “home.”

  53. This is probably the best piece written on this tragedy. Thank you.

  54. Kyle Couchman

    Thank you Jeff, beautifully put, I have been in shock since I saw the President barely make it through his news conference Friday. Not since 9/11 have I felt such raw emotional response to an event like this. God Bless you and your Hometown of Newtown. People across the nation have held hands in prayer and been down on our knees sending all the Love and Hope that we can to show those who have lost everything….that we care.

  55. Mitzi Koontz

    Thank you, Jeff, for your heartfelt insight to your hometown. Prayers and so much love and goodwill to everyone in the community. Such amazing heroes (“helpers”) and precious innocent angels. The world has lost too much from this.

  56. Josh Newman

    Thank you for this, Jeff. Perfectly stated.

  57. Lynda Quigley

    Jeff – My heart is bleeding. You have put words to what I have been feeling in my heart. I do believe the world is a wonderful place with a small amount of evil. I pray for these angels. Hug your daughter, your wife, your mother, your family, and your friends tight! Know as teachers, we will do anything for our kids. They are our world. Merry Christmas in Newtown.

  58. Laura Markowicz

    Our hearts break for everyone in Newtown. We live in Southbury and went to pay our respects Saturday. God bless you and all of the families stricken by this unimaginable thing.

  59. Yes very heartfelt insight and my heart goes out to the family’s but beside the fact-

    THE MAYAN CALENDAR’S WERE USED TO STUDY THE STARS AND PREDICT THEIR MOVEMENTS (THEY NEVER HAD TELESCOPES LOL) AND WAS NOT TO PREDICT THE END OF THE WORLD AND ALSO IF YOU THINK THAT THE WORLD WILL END ON THE 21ST THINK AGAIN AN NEW CALENDER WAS FOUND BACK IN MAY THAT PROVED TO BE 7000 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE FROM NOW AND IT’S CARBON DATING IS EARLIER THEN THE ONE THAT ONLY GOES TO THE 21ST OF 2012.

    AS I READ THE POSTER AND SHOWS HE BELIEVES IN GOD I CAN ONLY WONDER WHY HE SKIPPED THE PART OF THE BIBLE WHERE IT SAYS,”No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    HISTORY HAS SHOWN THAT MANKIND HAS ALWAYS SEARCHED FOR CLUES AND SIGNS OF THE COMING OF THE END OF THE WORLD AND PREDICTIONS WILL ALWAYS BE COMING FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES BUT NONE WILL EVER BE REAL.

    ALSO I FORGOT THE PERSON THAT PREDICTED THE 21ST ENDING OF THE WORLD CLAIMS TO HAVE TELEPATHIC ABILITY AND IS SPEAKING TO THE ALIENS THAT WILL BE COMING ROFL ROFL ROFL.

    SEE YOU ON THE 22ND HEALTHY AND VERY ALIVE.

  60. A well-written piece, indeed, but more importantly, a meditation of profound insights. Insights that could only come from a deeply wounded heart.

    I could never feel your personal pain the way you do, given the ties you have with Sandy Hook Elementary School and Newtown, Connecticut. However, I, too, felt the sting of that senseless massacre of innocent lives on that day.

    Thank you for sharing with the world that Newtown, Connecticut is a place where angels abound.

  61. Steffj89

    I grew up in Oklahoma City, and have felt exactly as you describe about my own hometown. What i have learned in the years since is that slowly but surely we move forward. The heartfelt loss is never gone, but the ache dulls over time. Our hearts go out to you and our prayers hold you tight. We don’t always know the depth of how we are affected until those lights go off, and the media leaves, and we have time to grieve. The loss of innocence is always hard to bear because there is no preparation, no course we can take, no 4 step program to follow, it simply is and we must navigate it through the pain. Blessings to you and your hometown.

  62. Jeff,

    Reading your story and the many other’s show’s me that a new beginning has already started…God Bless.

  63. Thank you for your heartfelt excellent article.

    The shooter was mentally ill and in great pain. Horrible beyond belief what he did with life long effects that some will never heal from. We can’t condemn the mentally ill. Some are pure evil. His photo shows how out of it he was and how much his brain chemistry must have been off. Food for thought. I place more blame with the mother for being so into guns and for having them around someone clearly not stable and WHY?

  64. Thank you for sharing your eloquent and poignant words. God bless you & yours. Please also extend from a Vietnam Vet a “Welcome Home” to your father, who I am certain is justifiably proud of having raised a Patriotic son.

  65. theresa Pesci/Hanlon

    Jeff that is so well written. You touched on all the points that make Newtown a great place to live. Although I live in Massachusetts I still consider Newtown my home. My family is still planning to go to Saint Rose for Christmas Mass where I was for confirmation and the place of my marriage. Thank you again for writing such a wonderful story that everyone should read.
    We never could give our children enough hugs. Like you I will ever be grateful that I can give my children one more hug. Theresa

  66. Kathy Goldberg

    What a beautiful piece… Forward it your Senators, Congressmen. Governor, and President Obama!

  67. As an Aussie from DownUnder who is staggered by this and every other act of extreme violence we see perpetrated in your society can I urge each one who has commented on this excellent blog to stand up to the gun lobby and NRA in your country and purge your communities of these insidious weapons of war that have NO PLACE in civil society. May God give you the courage to make a difference.

  68. Tanya Carlyle

    Thank you for your amazing words. I have cried each day since the tragedy for the enormous loss of the many parents who had children at Sandy Hook and the loved ones lost who tried to protect them. It is horrific and tragic and we have seen too much violence in our country. May we all see this as a call to action to make a difference in whatever way we can. We must care enough to reach out to those in need and “do something” to make our world a better place. It really takes a village. May these “angels” guide us.

  69. WOW Well written and what a blessing you have shown the world these angels truely are. I will always remember Sandy Hooker—-26 ANGELS
    Thanks and Blessings to everyone.

  70. God does have a plan that we do not understand. May Newtown truly be a “New Town” that the world will remember as a strong and caring community that showed the nation that things must change.

  71. Jeff, thanks for writing this, I also live in Mass and i feel the very same way that you do. This has been very painful for all of us. You were able to get it on paper, very nicely done. You may remember me from the little league days – the Superstar Sports squad. The old black and orange, yeah we were pretty good. Have a great Christmas and best wishes to you and your family.

  72. Sue Votino

    Prayer, thought and tears go out to the families and the town of this beautifull Angels God Bless all of you
    Southington, CT

  73. Joanne Zang

    Jeff, you’ve grown into a very insightful and inspiring man. Beautifully said. Hold your family tight.

  74. I also grew up in Newtown. Moved there in 1977, when I was ten. One of the kids in my scout troop lost a daughter on 12/14. My mom was the chair of a social services group – one that’s helping a lot now – in the 2000s. I also moved away from Newtown after college, and now live in a remarkably similar town in northern California.

    Although I’m well qualified to have thoughts on what happened, I don’t have any special ones to offer. I don’t think any of the policy proposals will matter worth a damn, because those capable of passing as a law will not actually change anything. Certainly none would have changed what happened in Newtown, though that saddens me deeply. I’d like to think it could have been prevented, but as an attorney with an interest in the Second Amendment and related debates, I don’t believe so.

    I too try to talk to my family and friends about what happened, and that may be the most important thing we can do. And Jeff, I agree with everything you say, and hope to meet you in Newtown someday. It will always mean my childhood to me, and no one can take that away.

  75. Vicki Dormer

    Jeff, I am a fan of yours via podcast, books, and other media. I heard your podcast on Darkness Radio (also listen to Spooky Southcoast and of course, 30 Odd) the other day and found myself to be an even bigger fan. Thank you for using your position of celebrity to so eloquently shed light on these angels and leading us ways we can all take part in support.

    I am a CT resident who works in Ridgefield and lives in Branford. I was only able to bring myself to drive through Sandy Hook on my way to work yesterday as starting each day this week with an already broken heart since Friday, made commuting through town almost too much to bear. And yet, people who live in Newtown, your friends and family, neighbors and community, are there every day, showing a level of grace that many could only hope to have. I have three boys, ages 10-15 and, my 10-year-old is an on-line “gaming friend” with a little boy who lost his sister on Friday. Whether we live in Newtown, somewhere else in CT, or the US or the rest of the world, we will forever be changed by the events that took place on Friday. You have been able to help us remember the gleams of hope that can come from such heartbreak. Thank you.

  76. Michelle

    This is the most beautifully written piece I’ve read.

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