Dec 14, 2013
06:57 AMConnecticut Today
A Year After Sandy Hook Tragedy in Newtown, Everything Has Changed
Tom Kelly IV/New Haven Register
The memorial set up near the Sandy Hook firehouse, and the entrance road to Sandy Hook Elementary School as seen here early Thursday morning December 20, 2012.
Drive through Newtown these days and it’s just as bucolic, just as small-town, picture-postcard, rural-suburban America as it was on Dec. 13, 2012.
Gone, at least up ’til now, are the huge crowds, the heavy traffic, the hillsides of angels and the mountains of teddy bears, flowers and other sympathetic memorabilia that poured in from all over the world last winter, by-products of the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that etched the town forever into history.
Gone also is Sandy Hook Elementary, demolished this fall behind a tall, screened fence amid tight security.
Work on a new school on the same site, being designed by New Haven architect Barry Svigals, has yet to begin. The surviving Sandy Hook children continue to learn in the borrowed former Chalk Hill School in neighboring Monroe.
The teddy bears — tons of them — have been ground into “sacred soil” to be used in some future memorial that a town committee has only just begun to discuss.
But while fewer “We Are Sandy Hook — We Choose Love” signs and banners may hang and fewer people may wear the green rubber Sandy Hook School sympathy bracelets that once were in every store and on most of the wrists in town, a strong, vibrant thread of Sandy Hook green remains tightly woven into everything in town.
Double stitching weaves around and through the hearts of all Newtowners, wherever they may be — and all those angels that once dotted the hillsides and the roadside memorials are woven tight in there, as well.
Twenty-six large bronze stars — currently ringed with green-and-white Christmas lights — now are mounted on the roof of the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company firehouse at Riverside Road and Dickinson Drive, which used to be the access road to the school.
And for much of this fall, the amazing run of the Newtown High School Nighthawks football team helped lift spirits and divert attention of many in town; the team wore Sandy Hook memorials as part of its uniform.
Both within and far beyond Newtown’s borders, an ocean of sympathy remains — with a tide still so high that Newtown’s First Selectwoman Patricia Llodra has publicly implored well-wishers and media to stay away on Saturday’s first anniversary of Adam Lanza’s rampage and let Newtowners reflect in peace.
Dozens of new organizations and foundations have sprouted and grown to distill whatever good they can from the grimmest of circumstances.
These are among the countless ways that Newtown, once known chiefly for the flagpole at the center of town, and the world have been changed as a result of the tragedy.
Armed with three semi-automatic firearms, Lanza, a 20-year-old whose name many Newtowners still won’t utter, began that day one year ago by shooting his mother, Nancy, as she lay in bed. He then drove to the school he once attended and quickly gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators.
Then he shot himself.
Nancy Lanza frequently gets left out of people’s counts of the carnage of that day. Virtually no one counts all the way up to 28.