For the people of Newtown, Connecticut, Christmas came and Christmas went. Packages were opened, gifts were handed out, shrieks of childhood joy filled the homes of the Connecticut town. New Year’s Day came and went as well, as people counted down 2016 in the hopes of a better 2017.

For 26 families in Newton, the celebration was somewhat somber if not muted. 20 children will never see another Christmas or leave milk and cookies for Santa. Six teachers will never exchange gifts with families and friends. They will never see a New Year’s Day Parade or football game, go to a prom, get married or have their own children.

December 14th marked the four-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took their lives. On December 14th, the town held a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the shooting. In their honor and to remember those that perished, Newtown first selectman Pat Llodra asked town employees to refrain from doing any work, including answering phones, between 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., the time that the shootings took place. As for the schools in Newton, it was going to be a regular school day but School Superintendent Joseph Erardi said there would be quiet reflections and age-appropriate messages for students.

While the rest of America on the East coast was getting ready to start their school day and most of America was about to start their workday or go Christmas shopping, Adam Lanza decided to take matters into his own hands by first shooting and killing his mother, then go on his rampage, which ended with his death at his own hands.

President Barack Obama said in a Facebook post that the anniversary was a day to remember staff and teachers who guided children to safety, the first responders and the victims.

“And we remember the children who held each other in the face of unconscionable evil; who, even as they’ve grown up in the shadow of this tragedy, will grow up loved and cared for more fiercely than ever,” Obama wrote.

26 people dead. Murdered. They will never meet Santa, will never go to a Christmas party or a Midnight mass again. Their parents, families and friends deprived of love and joy because of a crazed man that decided to take himself out of the world instead of facing justice. This is in no way an attempt to get rid of guns or do away with the 2nd Amendment; rather, this is the time for medical experts, educators, victims and the advocates of those that are no longer with us, legislators and the NRA to sit at table and have a meaningful discussion. It’s not going to be easy and there will be resistance but if even one life is saved, it’s worth the battle.

In a few days, it will be Valentine’s Day. Cards will be passed out and exchanged and cupcakes will be consumed. For Sandy Hook Elementary School, there will be 26 fewer cards passed out and 26 fewer cupcakes eaten. Here’s to hoping that Lanza’s name will never pass the lips of those that are still there, that it will NEVER be uttered again, either here on Earth or in Heaven. Here’s to hoping that those cupcakes will be consumed and those cards passed out in their honor.

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