By Jeanette DeForge, The Republican
HOLYOKE – People held candles, sang “Amazing Grace” and listened quietly while each of the 27 names of the victims of the Newtown, Conn. shooting were read followed by the ringing of a bell.About 150 people gathered at the Canal Walk, despite Sunday’s cold and the rain, to listen to local clergy and honor the victims, most of them children who were 6- and 7-years-old, who were killed about 80 miles away in a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.Similar vigils were held in Agawam and Chicopee Saturday.“It is scary. You don’t feel safe to bring your own children to school,” said Marilyn Santana, of Holyoke who attended the vigil Sunday. “Where are our children safe?”Santana said she wanted to be one of the people in the community to work together to protect each other.The vigil joined together leaders of the Congregation Sons of Zion of Holyoke, the United Congregational Church of Holyoke and the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts who spoke along with Mayor Alex B. Morse and representatives from the police and fire departments. The Madrigal Choir from Holyoke High School joined the event to lead the crowd in “Silent Night” and “Amazing Grace.”“Tragedy such as this makes us ask what is going on,” Police Chief James Neiswanger said. “Please realize there are no simple answers.”
He told people the police department does its best to keep people safe but cannot do it without help and support from the rest of the community.
“If your neighbor needed help will you help them? I think that is where we can make a difference,” he said.
People listen as the names of the 27 victims killed in the Newton, Conn. school shooting are read in a vigil Sunday in Holyoke.The Republican / Michael Beswick
Many of the speakers especially focused on the children who were killed as well as asking for people to pray for and protect all children.
“Our prayers are for the people of Newtown, Conn…and children everywhere,” said Chuck Morkin who with Bobbie Morkin are the pastoral team of the United Congregational Church.
When Steve Levine, president of the Congregational Sons of Zion read from one of the prayer books, people from all different religions joined on the refrain that repeated “We remember them.”
While the focus was on children, Morse reminded people about the teachers, some of whom were killed while protecting their students.
“When you see a teacher thank them,” he said. SOURCE