RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – A vigil Thursday night was a time for families and residents of Ridgefield to gather and take a moment to remember and grieve for those who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown .
“I was very heartbroken, very sad. Somewhere down the line we lost the value of life, respect, it was just lost. The value just went away somewhere,” said Tom Hawkes. “Because of the loss of all those teachers and children, it’s just hurting.”
“It was very difficult, to make sure they were all right,” Hawkes said. He has three daughters, and 11-year-old Emma came to the vigil with him and his wife, Michelle.
Emma learned of the events in Newtown after she came home from school at Scotts Ridge Middle School, where there had been a lockdown. When asked how she felt, she said she was heartbroken. “It was sad and upsetting, sad about what happened to all those kindergartners.”
But the hope is that something good will come out of the horrible event. “It will bring everyone together as human beings, it will make the bonds stronger. I think something great is going to come out of this horrible thing,” Hawkes said.
Michelle Hawkes found out about the shooting while working in Ridgefield schools, and she said that when she heard about it “it was scary and terrifying.”
“I just felt so bad for the parents. When I heard that they were leaving them there overnight, that’s when it hurt me,” she said. “My heart goes out to all the parents, to all the people, even the people who survived.”
And empathizing with parents and those who lost someone in the shooting is why Ridgefield resident Rob Libonati said he went to Thursday’s vigil.
“You empathize with them if you’re a parent, and even if you’re not a parent it's shocking how such evil can happen in front of your kids,” Libonati said. “You show your support with the community, and you just come together. It’s really all you can do.”
Local clergy offered prayers and told of their own experiences. Pastor Bill Pfohl of Jesse Lee United Methodist Church described Dec. 14 as “the darkest day of the year.” Dr. Fred Turpin of United Church of Christ called it “senseless violence” as he remembered the “hollow breathless ache” he felt when he heard the news.
“I think that this is a welcome respite,” said state Rep. John Frey R-Ridgefield. He spoke of his nieces and nephews who attend Sandy Hook and described the last week as horrific. “But we all felt it in so many ways. … I think this is a fitting tribute, and I think the timing is right prior to the holidays.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.