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Residents Remember School Shooting Victims in Tearful Vigil

Families gather on Village Green to light candles and release sky lanterns in memory of Newtown, CT victims.

Oak Lawn residents gathered with their children at the Village Green on Friday in a show of hope against some dark times in our country by lighting candles and releasing sky lanterns in memory of the Newtown, CT shooting victims.

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Mayor Dave Heilmann orchestrated the candlelight vigil to honor the 20 schoolchildren and six teachers who died in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.

“Most of us have dropped our children off at schools and you see them walk or run in. Seven hours later you expect them to walk out with a smile on their face,” the mayor said. “We don’t expect to get a call with the words that no parent should ever have to hear.”

Heilmann said he couldn’t imagine telling his four children that their brother or sister wouldn’t be coming home from school, or walking into a room and seeing their toys and clothes knowing a child was never coming back.

“I don’t know what those families are saying to each other tonight or the words they use between the tears,” Heilmann said. “Maybe that way comes from other communities across the United States like Oak Lawn … maybe together we can bring a little light into their lives.”

After the mayor’s opening remarks, the Christmas lights on the Village Green went dark for several moments.

As Oak Lawn children read the names of the deceased Newtown first-graders, tearful parents hugged their own children a little tighter.

All about the Village Green community members of all ages held candles, even a baby in a stroller.

Sarah McLachlan’s melancholy “Arms of the Angel” flowed over the Village Green where Oak Lawn firefighters lit sky lanterns for each lost soul and released them into the night sky.

For a moment, the lanterns congregated together in the sky, then disappeared.

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Quiet Neighbor December 30, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Lorraine, thanks for a good recap and for providing video. I think that paying respect to the lost with time and thought and via personal letters makes more sense than collecting cash. There aren't homes to rebuild or food to provide and the standard hurricane response isn't applicable. Nothing we do can bring the children back or erase the tragedy from history. Responding by way of coming together as a community like this is about the best and most reasonable response. The more we can make people and not things a priority the better off we all will be. The more that the community can come together and share experiences whether they be celebrations or sadness it is good for all. Instead of debating the event, lets use it as an example, a stepping off point to remember to be good to one another. There are many other people aside from Sandy Hook that grieve everyday as there are new acts of violence that take lives, locally and globally and could use our support tomorrow and the next day. This was a very human thing to do and it is always a remarkable experience when strangers come together setting aside every difference for the matter at hand. It brings a shred of hope in humanity , an example of caring and love, and helps heal those affected by the tragedy. It was for all of us locally who needed it as much as it was for Newtown because this hit home for many people. It isn't an empty gesture but rather a real facing of fear, sadness, and a show of support. Thanks O.L.
Nancy M. Czerwiec December 30, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Read the Chicago Tribune on Sunday Dec 30th- and see how they are inundated with "stuff"-No more responses to those wanting to run an idea into the ground--Lastly hope everyone said at least a prayer or two.
Breeze916 December 30, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I'm withyou on the Beatle's comment. Well done. However, that's the point. "THINK good THOUGHTS". Not "line up 5 year olds on a cold night and hand them candles so our neighbors know we're caring people. I have been sending good thoughts to those poor families since the moment it happened. I don't need a bumper sticker to show I feel for them...or the troops...or some fireman/cop lost in the line of duty. Isn't that a given? Why do we have to light candles and lay down little stuffed animals? Just my opinion, of course.
Breeze916 December 30, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Well said Quiet. Well said. And when it's done for those reasons...and those reasons alone...it is a good thing.
Lorraine Swanson December 30, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I think it's safe to say that this was not an empty gesture on the part of Oak Lawn residents.

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