As candles glowed on Sherman Green, Monday, Dec. 17, the message was clear: Darkness will not prevail. That message was the common thread throughout the vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown on the morning of Friday, Dec. 14.
“At our core, people are essentially good,” the Rev. David Spollett of the First Church of Fairfield said to the hundreds of people huddled together on the green. Many held candles of one form or another.
All were somber and quiet.
“People are good. This darkness will not prevail,” Spollett continued.
He hadn’t gone to the gathering with the intention of speaking. Like most of the crowd, he was there to offer a silent remembrance for the 26 victims, 20 of whom were children.
Spollett was one of an array of religious leaders offering a spiritual call for hope and the enduring nature of humanity’s better side. They all spoke of the darkness that spilled into the world on Friday morning when a lone gunman killed his own mother before invading Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdering teachers and defenseless children.
The clergy also spoke of faith, and healing and hope. They spoke of candles offering a symbolic point of light to cut through the darkness.
First Selectman Michael C. Tetreau opened the vigil with remarks about the nature of community. The events that brought everyone to the green that night had — through their horror — extended the notion of community beyond Fairfield’s streets and borders.
Tetreau noted that Fairfield’s residents now mourned for and with those in Newtown. In shock and grief, Fairfield, Connecticut and the nation as a whole had become entwined as one community.
“All of our little squabbles and arguments pale in comparison,” Tetreau said. “We have more in common than we have in differences.”
As the evening went on, Christian Cordozo sang Silent Night, a song becoming hauntingly familiar to the vigils. The reading of scriptures began with the shortest verse in the King James version of the Bible, John 11:35. The passage reads, “Jesus wept.”
Poems were recited, and the victims’ names were read aloud. A candle inside a luminary bag was lit for each of them. A short distance away, a bundle of white balloons wavered in the mild wind.
Stuffed animals lay at the base of some of the poles supporting candles. Those and other tokens of comfort were placed in remembrance for children and loved ones who will never get a chance to hold them.
The first funeral for one of the victims was held in Fairfield earlier on Monday. Services for 6-year-old Noah Pozner were held at Abraham L. Green and Sons Funeral Home. Noah was then laid to rest in B’Nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe.
At the vigil, Fairfield police Chief Gary MacNamara stood silently with the crowd, his hand cupping and protecting a candle’s flame. Earlier in the day, he attended Noah’s funeral. He was also one of the Fairfield police officers who responded to Newtown as the initial reports of a shooting in a school went out.
MacNamara announced Monday morning that Fairfield schools would see an increase in police presence for at least the near future. There are no known threats, but MacNamara and school officials want students, teachers and parents to feel safe.
While the crowd was asked at one point to echo the words “We will remember them,” there was one name not spoken at the vigil: that of the gunman. For him, a member of the clergy said that he was the creator and bringer of this darkness and as such should be the “one man whose name we will forget.”