A The 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 a short distance from the school. It has become customary in Newtown for anniversaries and other commemorations of the shooting to be marked with quiet reflection.
Relatives of some victims were given a private tour of the grounds on Saturday.
“I think they deserve to be out of the bright lights of the world,” said Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, the town’s top elected official.
The memorial is designed as a peaceful place for contemplation. Paths with a variety of plantings lead to a water feature with a sycamore tree in the middle and the names of the victims etched on top of the surrounding retaining wall.
The water flow 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 in person before this weekend. Her daughter, Kathryn Violet Hubbard, 6, was one of the children who died in the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting.
“It took my breath away in the sense that to see Catherine’s name and to see what was created in honor of those who lost … the families, those who survived – they lost their innocence,” she said. “And the community. We all suffered because of December 14th.
“I think the memorial is perfectly designed to honor and provide a place to contemplate and reflect on a day that really changed the country,” she said.
Nelba Marquez-Green, whose 6-year-old daughter, Anna Grace Marquez-Green, was killed, took to Twitter Saturday to thank those who worked to plan the memorial for years.
“Ten years. A lifetime and a moment,” she wrote. “Anna 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 offset 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 in the fall of 2013 to oversee planning for the memorial. Some proposed sites were rejected, including one near a hunting lodge where gunshots could be heard, and officials cut the cost of the $10 million project because of concerns that voters would not approve it.
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