More than 50 people attended a candlelight vigil at Falmouth High School on a cold and windy evening Wednesday for the victims and survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Jennifer A. DelSignore of East Falmouth organized the vigil, not because she has a personal connection to anyone who lives in Newtown but because she felt a need to gather with others to express grief and sympathy after one of the worst mass shootings in American history.
“I’m just a parent,” she said. “I’m just a human.” Ms. DelSignore, the mother of five children, was joined by her two oldest sons, Collin, 13, an 8th grader at Falmouth Academy, and Toby, 12, a 6th grader at Morse Pond School, who welcomed people to the vigil and handed out green ribbons along with a piece of paper printed with the names of those who died last Friday.
Toby said the students at his school were not talking about the shooting.
Collin said Falmouth Academy held an assembly about the shootings and there are plans to change security and safety protocols. Collin said he was scared by the shootings last week and feared that video games might desensitize people to violence. But, he said, he also felt safe at his school and views his classmates and teachers like a second family.
Ms. DelSignore left her other children, ages 8, 6 and 9 months, at home with her husband. The baby had just spiked a fever, she said, and so the youngest children stayed home as well although they wanted to come.
It was difficult to explain what happened in Newtown to her children, she said, but she told the children that “a bad man did a bad thing and a lot of children died.”
She told the group huddled together under the lights on the school athletic fields that the shootings were a reminder of how precious life is and the unimportance of the normal stresses of daily life. “I’m reminded of how trivial the Cheerios on the kitchen floor are,” she said.
Mark C. Wilson, the director of curriculum and instruction for the Falmouth Public Schools, spoke about the fear and dread that the shootings had raised in people across America.
I think in all the sad towns and cities across the country, that there is not a mayor, selectman, alderman, councilman or legislator, who is not facing their own anxious fear that the laws that govern this country are insufficient to protect the citizens who live here.
“I think in all the sad towns and cities across the country, that there is not a mayor, selectman, alderman, councilman or legislator, who is not facing their own anxious fear that the laws that govern this country are insufficient to protect the citizens who live here,” Mr. Wilson said. “And I think the hardest piece of all, across the sad households of America, that every mom, dad, and guardian, faces and is confronted with, is an everlasting fear that the hug we gave our child as we dropped them off at school was the last hug we could give.”
The Reverend Peter Fournier of St. Patrick’s Church in Falmouth said the tragedy of Newtown was in diametric opposition to the Christmas holiday. “Our hearts are torn,” he said. “We have joy on one side and this tragedy pulling us down.” To make sense of those two conflicting emotions, he said, they must rely on each other to find peace.
“If any good can come from what happened last week, that good is that it gives us a greater awareness and a greater appreciation of what we have,” he said. “Let not this darkness overcome our joy.”
Father Fournier, 31, is from Attleboro and has been at St. Patrick’s for six months after spending two years at St. Francis Xavier in Hyannis.
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After a moment of silence, those assembled signed a poster bordered with hearts expressing sympathy for the people of Newtown. Ms. DelSignore’s aunt, Alicia Enos, planned to drive the poster, cards, flowers and other tokens of appreciation to Newtown yesterday.
School committee members Rebecca Moffitt and Laura L. Peterson thanked Ms. DelSignore for bringing them all together. Carole and John Sutherland of Gifford Street, Falmouth, signed the poster and gave Ms. DelSignore a hug.
Collin, Ms. DelSignore’s oldest son, said, “I’m really proud of what my mom did tonight.”