6 months after Sandy Hook massacre, Newtown residents remain hopeful

Posted at 10:25 PM, Jun 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-14 22:25:52-04

Newtown, CONNECTICUT (PIX11) — In the 180 days since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, much has happened. Yet not much has been accomplished. Steven Barton, of nearby Southbury, reminding families and friends who gathered to reflect on loved ones lost.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the quaint town of Newtown has been elevated to the national stage.  It stands front and center in one of the most polarizing debates in our nation: gun control reform.  On Friday in Newtown, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political committee on gun reform, “Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns,” kicked off a tour that will last 100 days and visit 25 states, “We want to remember the 26.  We want to show people we’re not going away and that even though it’s been six months, we still remember them,” said Carlee Soto.  Here sister Victoria was one of six adults gunned down at the school.

Newtown is not the same place. It never will be.

However, those who came out Friday morning reflect with hopes that innocence did not die in vain. That hope is what motivates some like the Soto sisters to forge ahead in their fight against the NRA.  “We can longer sit back and let it keep happening, because it happens every single day and we’re not doing anything about it, Congress is not standing up, we need more numbers.” said Jillian Soto.

Barton was dragged into the fight last July, “I kind of came to the issue of gun violence unexpectedly. I was wounded last summer in the middle of a cross country trip in Aurora, Colorado I was going to the movies there and was shot with a shotgun.”  He is of course referring to the Aurora theater massacre at the hands of James Holmes.

That is the one component about these tragedies appears over and over again.  The coincidental aspect that impacts some victims.  Gilles Russea daughter, Lauren, was a substitute teacher at Sandy Hook.  She had received her classroom assignment a mere thirty minutes before the gunman arrived.  Coming together with other families on this 180th day proved challenging for her father, “I was just getting emotional and I said ‘Oh my God’, I didn’t know it was going to hit me today, but it did.  But I composed myself and I said, ‘No they need me, Lauren needs me to be there’, so I came.”

The last six months has produced a constant stream of support from the outside for the residents of Newtown. Then there are those like Kyle Liddy. Born and raised in Newtown, he is part of initiative called “We Are Newtown,” an organization that inspires to give back. On Saturday they will do just that, by honoring four students from Newtown High School with $6500 towards college.  The scholarships do have a unique catch according to Liddy, “Yeah we are contributing $6500 each to four students who we’ve selected to go to college to become teachers.”

In the eyes of many, teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary did more than just teach.  They saved lives.