Bells across country toll for Newtown shooting victims

Posted at 9:19 AM, Dec 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-21 11:42:31-05

(CNN) — For the people of Newtown and for people across the country, 9:30 a.m. was a time to stop, listen and remember.

Bells rang in the Connecticut town and in churches and government buildings in multiple states Friday morning to remember the 20 children and six women who were gunned down at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School at that hour a week ago.

Standing in cold rain — some with umbrellas, and others who let the water wash over their bowed heads — people in Newtown gathered outside various locations and paused as multiple churches rang their bells at least 26 times, once for each victim.

Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman stood with others under the awning of Newtown’s Edmond Town Hall. People also paused elsewhere in town — under a tent that covered the numerous flowers and stuffed animals left as a memorial — and outside various churches.

Some closed their eyes. Some put hands on their hearts. All stood nearly still as the bells rang.


At least one Newtown church rang its bells 28 times, also marking the death of the gunman, who killed himself after the shootings, and his mother, whom he killed before going to the school.

Three pastors at that church, Newtown United Methodist Church, took turns ringing the bell.

In the state Capitol building in Hartford, a bell was rung for each victim after their names were read. “Amazing Grace” was sung afterward.

Bells were rung at the National Cathedral in Washington and at churches in Miami. Traders at the New York Stock Exchange paused silently for one minute before the opening bell.

Earlier, in a letter sent to other governors around the country, Malloy noted how the shooting in his state has resonated nationwide.

“Mourning this tragedy has extended beyond Newtown, beyond the borders of Connecticut, and has spread across the nation and the world,” he said. “On behalf of the State of Connecticut, we appreciate the letters and calls of support that have been delivered to our state and to the family members during their hour of need.”

At least 29 states have declared a moment of silence for Friday morning, with flags flying at half-staff. People mourned on the Internet, as well — some websites were to go dark at the urging of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ron Conway, who came up with the idea at a Christmas party attended by Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was wounded in a 2011 shooting that killed six.

Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma suggested residents wear green, Sandy Hook’s school color. In Alaska, the Capitol’s bell will ring at 9:30 a.m. local time. The bell is a full-scale replica of the Liberty Bell.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have called for residents of their states to pause to reflect one week after the shooting rampage. Perry also asked that churches ring their bells 26 times in honor of the victims at the school.

In an open letter to the people of Newtown in Friday’s The Hartford Courant, first lady Michelle Obama wrote that she and President Barack Obama are “holding you and your families in our hearts.”

“As a mother of two young daughters, my heart aches for you and your families. Like so many Americans, I wish there were something — anything — I could do or say to ease your anguish,” Michelle Obama wrote.

Although she “cannot begin to imagine the depths of your grief,” she paid tribute to “the countless acts of courage, kindness and love here in Newtown and across America.”

The states honoring a moment of silence are Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

President Obama ordered flags to half-staff last Friday after the shooting. Flags will also fly at half-staff this Friday.