Newtown Vigil in Tarrytown: Ringing Bells for Action, a Call to Kindness

It was a complicated mix of tears, snow, sadness and hope, in front of Tarrytown’s Christ Episcopal Church this morning on the first anniversary of the Newtown tragedy that claimed the lives of 20 students and six adults in Connecticut.

Joining 50 such vigils in 35 states on this day, local Moms Demand Action leaders coordinated a special ceremony at the church demanding an end to gun violence, “no more silence,” and a “call for remembrance and resolve.”

Alex Dubroff, NY Upstate Event Lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Kim Russell, National Director of Outreach, both came down from Cold Spring during the snowstorm, for something of the opposite of a moment of silence. “No More Silence,” these moms asked. “It’s time to make noise about gun reform.”

Guests of all ages, some with some small children in tow, led by Rev. Susan Copley, sang, prayed, and stood up individually in the pews to list off other numerous recent gun-related deaths in the country and closer to home.

In Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow alone, the villages have been hit by more than their share of recent tragedies to young people:

In September, Long Island’s Megan Bookstaver, 23, died by a rifle shot still ruled “suspicious” in a Hudson Harbor town home as her boyfriend and friend were “examining firearms,” police said.

In May, Tarrytown’s Andrea  Rebello, 21, was shot and killed in her off-campus apartment in Long Island, by friendly fire as a police officer responded to a 911 call for a home invasion.

In November, former Sleepy Hollow resident Gabriel Hernandez, 21 was shot and killed in Miami.

Then there was Sleepy Hollow’s Jessica Santos, who a day before she was to start her sophomore year in college, was shot on the street by a random drive-by in Yonkers seven years ago. Her mother Gisela Marin, an advocate herself, was going to speak here on this day but couldn’t make it in the storm.

The small crowd went outside twice – once to ring little bells in a chorus against the backdrop of the 26 clangs of the church bells for each life lost in Newtown. Then again they returned outside after the service to hang prayer flags, a string of bells filled with personal messages. “We are Newtown,” “I ring my bell in hope of peace and in remembrance of all the lives lost to gun violence,” a red outline of a heart.

The Moms Demand Action group started shortly after Newtown, Dubroff said, teary-eyed. Progress has been made in several states, including New State, she said, toward stronger gun laws with less loopholes, but there's much work to be done. Dubroff said as a mother of a six-year-old, finding herself shattered after Newtown, she had no choice but to get involved.

“The tragedy at Sandy Hook was a wake-up call for many of us and we can no longer be silent about our nation’s raging epidemic of gun violence,” Dubroff said. “Nearly eight children and teens are shot and killed everyday in America. It is time our voices are heard.”

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) released the following statement on this anniversary: 

“One year ago, our nation and the world were shocked and horrified by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a tragedy that took the lives of six brave educators and 20 beautiful children.

“Yet, one year later, the violence continues, as we sadly saw in Colorado again today. Despite the mourning and cries of ‘never again!’ by Americans who have joined the fight to prevent gun violence, Congress has done something extraordinary: nothing.

“On this solemn anniversary, the best way we can honor the victims of Newtown and their families is to strengthen laws that protect Americans from gun violence. We could start with the bipartisan legislation to expand background checks. It deserves a vote, and the families of Newtown deserve a law.

“It is time for Congress to act.”

On this Dec. 14, there is the call to remember those many lost, their numbers increasing each day; a call to activate against gun violence; and, at the special request of those mourning in Newtown, a call to perform an act of kindness.

For more information visit, www.momsdemandaction.org; on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MomsDemandAction; on Twitter @MomsDemand.

Who will you remember today? And what act of kindness will you perform in their honor? Please share below. 


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