Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sandy Hook CT One Month After Tragedy Through My Eyes & Camera

Image of Sandy Hook Roses with a quote from Gandhi.

For the past three weeks I have been down for the count with the flu that has been making the rounds. Nasty little virus that zaps all of your energy and just makes you plain miserable. Needless to say, I have not been able to post on my blog because I have spent the majority of my time napping and fighting this bug. But now, I'm feeling much better and am ready to get back into the swing of things.

It has been a month since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In my previous post Sandy Hook CT Through My Eyes and My Camera, I shared many pictures of Sandy Hook and my observations following the events of December 14, 2012. Although one month has past, there are still numerous demonstrations of support from neighboring towns for the Sandy Hook community. You won't travel very far in our region without seeing signs of encouragement and prayer for our neighbors like the one at this gas station. (Caught this picture from a moving car...somewhat blurry, but you get the point).

Image of Newtown support sign in a neighboring town.
Sign of Support for Newtown, CT in a Neighboring Town

This past week we were back at the Sandy Hook diner and walked through the center of town after breakfast. Much has changed since our previous visit, but you just know in your heart that things will never be what they were prior to that horrible Friday morning.

The large spontaneous memorials that sprung up in the center of town have been dismantled and placed in safe keeping for a future project of remembrance. The thousands of flowers are being composted into sacred soil and the masses of people have returned to their homes across the United States and the world. What remains is a small town supported by its local neighbors coming together to cope with its loss and moving forward to make a difference.

If you take a quick look down the main street toward the stop light, your first impression is of a town as it was before the tragedy. Quiet and friendly surrounded with that small town vibe. But, if you take a closer look, you see a small town coping with tremendous loss and embracing one another as a community.

The roadblocks and traffic cones that lined the streets are gone, along with the traffic congestion. However, many of the police and first responders here are still from neighboring towns. They continue to take on the duties for those from Sandy Hook that responded to the nightmarish school scene and require additional time to heal emotionally.

Sidewalk alcoves and street corners that once held the memorials are now empty of keepsakes, but you can see small remnants left behind from the clean up. 

Image of an empty Sandy Hook street corner.
Street Corner in Sandy Hook, CT After the Memorials Have Been Dismantled

Image of empty sidewalk alcove in Sandy Hook.
Sidewalk Alcove in Sandy Hook, CT After Memorials Have Been Dismantled

Image of sidewalk alcove in Sandy Hook.
Another Sidewalk Alcove in Sandy Hook, CT After the Memorials Have Been Dismantled

Benches and shop entries that were previously covered with flowers, stuffed animals, flags, and all sorts of mementos now sit vacant.

Image of empty benches in front of a Sandy Hook dress shop.
Benches and Store Front That Were Once Overflowing with Mementos in Sandy Hook, CT

As you glance toward the bridge crossing the river that was once the backdrop for 26 wreaths, stockings of toys, signs and balloons, it now appears to be just an ordinary street bridge. However, if you step a little closer and really look at it, you see a bridge of commemoration. Fragments of knotted ropes left behind from the removal of the signs. Green and white ribbons tied to its lamps and small green ribbons at the base of poles nearby.

Image of Sandy Hook bridge.
Bridge in Sandy Hook, CT After Removal of the Memorials

Image of Sandy Hook bridge lamps wearing green and white ribbons.
Sandy Hook, CT Bridge Lamps Wearing Their Ribbons of Green and White

Image of green and white Newtown ribbon.
Green and White Newtown, CT Ribbons Placed Throughout Sandy Hook, CT

As we walked in front of the diner we noticed a green and white sign hanging in the window: "We Are Sandy Hook - We Choose Love."

Image of Sandy Hook Diner.
Sandy Hook Diner Proudly Displaying Its "We Choose Love" Sign

Image of We Choose Love sign in Sandy Hook.
Closer Inspection of the "We Choose Love" Sign in the Window of the Sandy Hook Diner

Continuing our stroll through the center of Sandy Hook we observed that many of the businesses had that same green and white sign prominently displayed in their windows.

Image of Sandy Hook store with We Choose Love sign.
"We Choose Love" Sign in a Sandy Hook, CT Store Window

Image of Sandy Hook deli with We Choose Love sign and hug banner.
"We Choose Love" Sign and Hug Banner in Window of a Sandy Hook, CT Deli

Image of Sandy Hook dress shop with We Choose Love sign.
"We Choose Love" Sign in the Window of a Sandy Hook, CT Dress Shop

Image of Sandy Hook toy shop with We Choose Love sign.
"We Choose Love" Sign in the Window of a Sandy Hook, CT Toy Shop

Along side the "We Choose Love" signage, many businesses had other symbols of tribute. One shop in particular caught my eye. It is a formal dress shop that exhibits several dresses in its windows. Presently all of the dresses are green or white which are the school colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Image of dress shop window displays in Sandy Hook.
Sandy Hook, CT Dress Shop Displaying Dresses in Green and White - Colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School

Image of dress shop window in Sandy Hook.
Sandy Hook, CT Dress Shop Displaying Dresses in Colors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School - Green and White

While we were walking through town, one of the center businesses was setting up for a fundraising event to take place that day. Stylists from around the area were joining up for 12 hours to raise money for the Sandy Hook Memorial Fund. According to our local news it was quite successful.

Image of preparation for Sandy Hook fundraising event at a hair salon.
Sandy Hook, CT Hair Salon Preparing for a Fundraising Event

Image of Sandy Hook hair salon window with hand prints of love.
Window of a Sandy Hook, CT Hair Salon with Hand Prints of Love

Image of signage at a hair salon announcing the Sandy Hook fundraiser.
Signage at a Sandy Hook, CT Hair Salon for the Fundraising Event

Picture of a large ribbon with the names of those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Green Ribbon With the Names of Those Lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School

The most poignant thing we saw on our walk was a small display memorializing the 20 children and 6 educators lost at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. At the end of the bridge a bouquet of 26 silk roses had been secured to a pole. Each rose portrayed the face of one of those lost in the tragedy. Below the roses was a thought provoking letter that hits you emotionally as you read it. This tribute captures the essence of this horrible event and was absolutely beautiful on its commonplace backdrop.

Image of a silk rose bouquet in Sandy Hook.
Bouquet of Silk Roses in Memory of Those Lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Image of the Sandy Hook portrait roses.
Portraits of Those Lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School on the Roses

Image of the letter beneath the Sandy Hook roses.
Letter Attached Beneath the Bouquet of Remembrance Roses

Thank you for visiting my blog today and allowing me to share my Sandy Hook, CT experience and photography with you. I hope you enjoyed your visit and will come back soon! In my next post I will be sharing a handmade thank you card including information on how I made it.

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