Vigil For Newtown Victims At National Cathedral

5:33 PM, Dec 12, 2013   |    comments
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A woman holds up a sign during a rally in Hartford, Conn., to promote gun control legislation last February.(Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images)

Alan Gomez and Gary Strauss, USA TODAY    

WASHINGTON - Hundreds gathered at National Cathedral here Thursday for an afternoon vigil honoring victims of gun violence.

The Newtown Foundation's National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence came two days ahead of the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, which killed 20 Newtown, Conn., students and six school staffers.

After church bells rang for three minutes to honor the 30,000 people killed by gun the past year, a series of multi-faith leaders prayed for an end to the violence.

"We gather to say 'No more,'" said Rev. Mel Kawakami of the Newtown United Methodist Church.

"America must not allow these kinds of massacres...to take place," said Dr. Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education. "Only then can we call this nation a perfect union."

Among those attending were Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse, was among Sandy Hook victims.

"I found peace here when I came for Easter, and hopefully I can find that peace again today,'' said Heslin, who spent time over the past year lobbying Connecticut politicians and Congress to tighten gun restrictions.

Thursday, however, was more about finding solace. "I'm not hear for any political reason,'' Heslin said. "I'm just here to honor Jesse."

Inside the cathedral, TV monitors displayed a constant loop of gun violence victims. Outside, a group of women wore sashes made from yellow and black tape,similar to police tape, that read "Stop Gun Violence."

Babe Healy King said the Newtown massacre was a "tipping point" for her and her friends to start the group and raise awareness of the gun violence that has continued after Newtown.

They wrapped trees in their Chevy Chase, Md., neighborhood with the tape and hope it mobilizes support for stiffer gun laws.

"People are numb (to gun violence)," said King, 68. "I hope there will be a huge explosion of people standing up and trying to make a difference."

The event was sponsored by the Newtown Foundation and the National Cathedral.

"The vigil is an opportunity to deflect the attention that will be on Newtown and will serve to draw attention to the bigger issue of more than 30,000 people dying of gun violence every year in our country,'' Newtown Foundation chairman Dave Ackert told the Newtown Bee.

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