Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

A memorial to the 20 first-graders and six teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting opened to the public Sunday, a month before the 10th anniversary of the massacre.

No ceremony was planned at the site not far from the school. It has become customary in Newtown to mark anniversaries and other memories of the shooting with quiet reflection.

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Relatives of some victims were given a private tour of the field on Saturday.

“I think they deserve to not have the lights of the world on them,” said Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, the town’s top elected official.

The monument is intended as a peaceful place for reflection. Paths with diverse plantings lead to a water feature with a sycamore tree in the center and the names of the victims engraved on top of the surrounding retaining wall.

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The flow of water is designed so that floating candles, flowers and other objects move towards the tree and circle around it.

Like some other relatives of the victims, Jennifer Hubbard saw the memorial at a private meeting before this weekend. Her daughter, Catherine Violet Hubbard, 6, was one of the children who died in the shooting on December 14, 2012.

“It took my breath away in terms of seeing Catherine’s name and seeing what was created to honor those who lost … family, those who survived — they lost their innocence,” she said. “And the community. We all suffered because of December 14th.

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“I think the memorial is so perfectly placed to honor and provide a place to contemplate and reflect on a day that really changed the country,” she said.

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Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace Marquez-Greene was killed, took to Twitter Saturday to thank those who worked for years to plan the memorial.

“Ten years. A lifetime and blink,” she wrote. “Ana Grace, we’ve been waiting for you to come home. Now you wait for us. Hold on baby. Hold on.”

City voters approved $3.7 million in memorial costs last year. Some of the cost was recouped when the State Bond Commission approved giving the city $2.5 million for the project.

The project faced several challenges after the city created a special commission to oversee the memorial’s planning in the fall of 2013. Some proposed sites were rejected, including one near a hunting lodge where gunshots could be heard, and officials scaled back the $10 million project because concerns that voters will not approve it.

© 2022 The Canadian Press