A Year After Newtown Shooting, D.C. Vigil Honors Victims

By Kelsey Hopper
BU News Service

WASHINGTON — The Bourdon Bell of Washington National Cathedral —- the “National House of Prayer” — tolled for three minutes late Thursday, each minute representing 10,000 lives lost to gun violence last year in recognition of the one year anniversary of the Newtown shootings.

As the sun set in the nation’s capital, the National Cathedral’s stain glass windows illuminated the exterior, while hundreds of candles glowed from within the sanctuary in the hands of mourners of gun violence. Activists against gun violence who visited the U.S. Capitol a day earlier to call for stricter gun control legislation joined interfaith religious and community leaders at the National Cathedral for a vigil for victims of gun violence.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both D-Conn., and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn. – whose district includes the site of last year’s Newtown school shooting — were  in attendance, along with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D- District of Columbia, who called for continued “persistence” in the fight for gun control legislation here.

The Washington National Cathedral partnered with the Newtown Foundation, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence and the Newtown Action Alliance to bring together families and community leaders two days before the one-year anniversary of the Sandy HookElementary School shootings in Newtown. As a solemn reminder of the events of a year ago, grieving families and community members wore green ribbons to honor the victims of the shooting.

“A year ago next Sunday, I said from this pulpit behind me, ‘The gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.’ I said that then, and I say it now because I believe that the forces of love are greater and stronger than the forces of hatred,” declared the National Cathedral’s dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, who has been a strong voice for preventing gun violence.

Thursday’s service incorporated prayers of remembrance and hope from religious and non-violence leaders. The World Children’s Choir and singer Carole King also performed hymns throughout the vigil.

The white candles held by mourners burned while the choir sang “My Beautiful Town,” a musical piece written by a local music teacher, Jim Allyn, following the Newtown shootings.

The candles remained lit as the mourners filled out of the sanctuary singing the hymn “This Little Light of Mine,” and taking with them handcrafted paper hearts as they left the cathedral.

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