“The Children’s Park is a special place to celebrate the lives of all children and that especially includes children that have passed on, so with this horrible incident in Connecticut, we felt like we needed to do something here,” said Jennifer Carson, president of the Children’s Park board of directors.
Ms. Carson said the group intentionally waited to have the vigil to show support for the families affected in Newtown, Conn.
“One of the hardest things when you lose a child is you sometimes feel like everyone has moved on and your child has been forgotten …” Ms. Carson said.
“To hear those children’s names spoken out loud, even it’s this many miles apart, it’s about acknowledging and saying we haven’t forgotten, we are remembering with you,” she said.
Elwood Stetson, chaplain for Hospice of East Texas, said just as physical wounds heal with proper care and time, so do emotional ones. He said the grief process is gift from God to help those wounds heal.
“We stand together to face this horrendous loss and feeling pain and numbness tonight,” he said. “We are going to light a candle as an expression of their loss, of our loss and a prayer for God’s love and light that can come and light the darkness.”
As light from the honorees glowed in front of the crowd, they lit candles of their own and together sang “Silent Night.”
Among those in the crowd were 34-year-old Alondra Villalobos and her sons, Troy, 4, and Kael, 11.
“I hadn’t had a chance to do anything locally after what happened,” Mrs. Villalobos said. “You have all these emotions. You can’t go over there and share it with their families. I thought it was a nice way just to do something.”
As she held her wiggling 4-year-old, Mrs. Villalobos said it was a tragedy that hit close to home.
“I try to put myself in that position and how I would feel, and I have my little ones and I can’t imagine something like that happening to them,” she said.
She brought her children to the vigil to show them sometimes unavoidable bad things happen, and when they do to honor and respect the memory of the victims.
“I don’t want to traumatize them, but I do want them to know (how to) pay our respects to the little ones (who are gone) and to their parents who are still here.”