Sandy Hook Massacre: The Funeral Procession

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The funeral procession of tiny caskets filled with the hopes, dreams and futures that were shattered when a lone gunman shot his way into the safety of Sandy Hook Elementary School have ended.

In the days since, the details surrounding the shooting have firmed and initial media reports disseminated in the chaos have been replaced with facts. The numbers, however, remain the same. 20 children, first graders, murdered: Six adults, dedicated education professionals, also murdered.  A mother, unaware of a son who could commit such senseless violence, and a monster both dead.

Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is the worst elementary school massacre in 85 years after the 1927 Bath School disaster that killed 38 children and six adults and injured over 58 others and the second worst mass casualty after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre just five short years ago.   

The President has restructured his second term agenda and placed Vice President Biden in charge of crafting policy that will combat the ever increasing tide of gun violence through gun control. The world cried 14 days ago and now, we hope, and mourn and wish that we could go back.  Now we have facts, statistics, promises of assistance, and long term care.

Here an additional fact in these past two weeks Newtown, Connecticut has seen 26 funerals, 20 of them children. 11 of the first graders were laid to rest by Dan Honan, a third generation funeral director in Newton, Connecticut and according to published reports all his services, for every family that called, were donated.

The Hartfort Courant reported, “The first call from a family came at 7 a.m. on Dec. 15. Around that same time, the association [Connecticut Funeral Directors Association] called, offering not just manpower but a whole plan of action that was set in motion that day. Honan had no way of knowing how many families would call.

By Sunday, the puzzle was coming together and Honan and leaders of the association organized the volunteers into teams. One thing was clear: This was not commerce. No money changed hands, no family paid anything. Casket companies donated caskets, vault companies donated vaults, cemeteries donated plots and the homes sent volunteers, every one of them a state-licensed director.

Working directly with most families were Honan; Mark Frederick, the other director at Honan; and John Zaleski of the Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home in Ansonia, Honan's close friend. Molloy [Shauna Molloy of Molloy Funeral Home in West Harford, Connecticut] took charge of scheduling the volunteers — some worked all week, some for one day — and of the grim task of preparing the bodies.

The association's president, Pasquale Folino, vice president of Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Homes in New London and Niantic, was there much of the week as well. He talked about the moral support the directors gave each other, which was clear as the last of them tended to final details in Honan's casket room before heading home late Friday.”

Sources: Agencies/Hartfort Courant; “Funeral Home Director In Newtown Looks Back On A Week of Crisis and Support” Dan Haar, 12/22/12 Online Edition



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