Sandy Hook victims' families pay tribute to loved ones on 6th anniversary of shooting

Sandy Hook families mark the sixth anniversary of the mass shooting by remembering those they lost. (Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)
Sandy Hook families mark the sixth anniversary of the mass shooting by remembering those they lost. (Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)

On Dec. 14, 2012, a gunman fatally shot 20 children, six adults and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Six years later, the victims’ families continue to speak out about the tragedy and remember the loved ones they lost.

A bomb threat forced the evacuation of the elementary school on Friday, sending teachers and parents home on what was meant to be a day of memorial services and moments of silence to honor the victims’ memories.

Loved ones still paid tribute to their lives on social media. Nicole Hockley, managing director at the nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise, posted photos of her then-6-year-old son, Dylan, calling him her “beautiful butterfly.” Hockley’s other son, Jake, survived the shooting, but Dylan was killed at school that day.

“Six years ago, my life was changed forever,” tweeted Erica Lafferty Garbatini, the daughter of Sandy Hook principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung. “I still do not believe that there is ‘healing’ from a trauma like this. You just learn to survive. For six years, I have survived.”

Garbatini wrote about the pain of finding out that her mother had been murdered, picking out what she would be buried in and then attending her funeral.

That was one of the hardest days of my life,” she said. “But, honestly, if I got to see her just one more time, even if it was just laying in her beautiful casket — I would do it all over again.”

After Nelba Márquez-Greene’s 6-year-old daughter, Ana, died in the 2012 shooting, she launched the Ana Grace Project aimed at promoting love, community and connection. On Friday, she posted a photo of Ana’s grave to call on others to spread love and help keep hope alive.

“It is possible to simultaneously believe love wins & pray and work that s*** into the universe,” Márquez-Greene tweeted. “It is not only possible. It is my life. Every day. Thank you for not forgetting her.”

Márquez-Greene’s husband, Jimmy Greene, posted a tribute to Ana as well.

Nelba Márquez-Greene also explained that America needs “to get this gun violence thing under control at a policy level too.” Since Sandy Hook, there have been at least 1,917 mass shootings across America, by Vox’s count. Though the 2012 tragedy changed the way police respond to mass shootings, the national outrage over the deaths of schoolchildren did not lead to significant policy change.

Sandy Hook parents are still fighting for stricter gun laws to help protect other parents from having to grieve the loss of a child.

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