by Patriot Staff
Residents from all across Dudley gathered at the Municipal Complex Tuesday evening to hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims of the Sandy Hook School slayings in Newtown, Conn. last week. Twenty six people died in the school shooting, twenty of them five- to seven-year old children.
The brief ceremony was initiated by Jonathan Ruda, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, who thanked everyone for coming and stated the importance of the community pulling together to remember those who lost their lives in such a senseless manner. He was also reflective and thankful of what we have, and wished that no other community would ever go through a similar situation.
Father Peter Preble, the Dudley Fire Department’s Chaplain, was next to the podium to offer an opening prayer to the group.
Dudley Police Chief Steve Wojnar then got up and thanked the attendees and expressed his thoughts about the incident and about those who first responded to the school shooting: police, fire, and emergency medical services. First responders were forced to witness, without doubt, the most horrific scene in their collective careers, he said.
Sean Gilrein, Superintendent of the Dudley-Charlton Regional School District, also addressed the crowd. His thoughts were centered on the innocent children, and the six adults who stood their ground protecting their precious charges, losing their lives in the process.
Rev. Patrick O’Loughlin of the Calvary Assembly of God Church offered a final prayer, and Dudley Selectman Peter Fox closed the ceremony with a simple thank you message.
Just then, a mass of 26 green and ivory colored balloons were released and floated skyward, rising until they were out of sight. The balloons, done in the Sandy Hook School’s colors, represented each of the lives lost in the senseless shooting.
The vigil was very somber and people of all ages, from school children to the elderly, could be seen throughout the crowd, shedding a tear or two. This event was aimed at helping the Dudley community deal with the tragedy, show solidarity with the people of Newtown, and help the local community begin to heal after a tragic incident which touched every single town and city across the nation.