Three days after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the picturesque New England town of Newtown, Conn., the area has been taken over by neighbors, family and strangers who care, all delivering a simple message: The victims will not be forgotten.
At an interfaith vigil, thousands of families stood for hours in the cold rain for the chance to come together and listen to words of comfort from President Obama.
“In the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other,” the president said Sunday night at a memorial service for the 27 victims. ”You’ve cared for one another. And you’ve loved one another.”
As strangers become family, random acts of kindness are everywhere.
“This is such a small town,” local resident Vassos Kyprianou said. “Face from face we know each other, we see each other at the deli, we see each other everywhere. It’s such a small community, it’s a family. That’s why most of us [are] gathered here tonight.”
And like a family, the people of Newtown, whether born here or brought here by tragedy, will face the difficult days ahead by relying on one another.
As the president assured them Sunday night, they are not alone.
A simple, spray-painted sign in Newtown under a dark, damp underpass says, “There is no foot so tiny that it can’t leave an imprint on this world.” Today, there are 26 sets of footprints leaving their mark, from vigils across the country, to a heavenly choir paying tribute on “Saturday Night Live” to nationwide sporting events.
At the New England Patriots game Sunday night, 26 flares were lighted before kickoff, one for each life taken far too soon at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Basketball stars like LeBron James and Chris Bosh clutched their own sons during a moment of silence in Miami.
And then there was New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who scrawled onto his cleats a special tribute to Jack Pinto, 6, one of the first grade students killed at Sandy Hook, as well as one of Cruz’s biggest fans. Cruz was so moved he reached out to Pinto family members, who told him they’re considering burying Jack in his favorite Victor Cruz jersey.
“I was honored,” Cruz said after the Giant’s game with the Atlanta Falcons. “I couldn’t even express to them how great that made me feel. I just told them to stay strong, and I’m going to do whatever I can to honor them.”