Eric Byler, Bobby Wagnerman and I have been documenting in Newtown, CT all week. Bobby lives in Danbury which is next to Newtown. He’s a bit surprised that the Story of America, along with the rest of the world it seems, has come to his hometown which until a month ago had a reputation for not being newsworthy at all.
My first impression of Newtown, CT is that it is the most picture-perfect American town. It made me think of Frank Capra and Norman Rockwell immediately. It is the kind of town that I was told by residents where moved to because it has a reputation for being very safe, the best place for raising children.
After spending this week in Newtown, I am in awe with the strength and love among the residents here. We were told that there was a strong sense of community and civic responsibility that existed before the Sandy Hook shooting and how people have come even closer together since December 14th.
I hear over and over again here, things must change — words that are said with absolute conviction. It’s actually comforting and inspiring to hear the same words being echoed by so many.
Being here, it’s impossible not to think about the twenty beautiful children who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I feel their presence everywhere I go. I can’t help thinking that they’re watching over Newtown, America and the rest of the world, encouraging us to love, be fearless, and care for each other.
We came here because we had heard about Sandy Hook Promise and the fact that some of the residents wanted to heard right now as Washington focused on ideas and actions for reducing gun violence in America. We wanted help get their voices, stories and messages to be heard across America.
Sandy Hook Promise is asking us to make a promise “to do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.” They want to be “remembered not as the town filled with grief and victims; but as the place where real change began.”
I have made that promise and I too want Newtown to be remembered as the place where real change began.
There is strength and hope here. There is strength and hope in America.
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