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Vigil marks one-month anniversary of elementary school shooting

Members of the Northeastern community gathered in the Sacred Space on Monday afternoon to commemorate the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and honor those who lost their lives in the Dec. 14 tragedy.

The interfaith vigil of remembrance and rededication to hope, kindness, and conscience was led by Alexander Lev­ering Kern, the exec­u­tive director of Northeastern’s Center for Spir­i­tu­ality, Dia­logue, and Ser­vice, and featured poignant remarks by Northeastern students and staff.

Speaking behind a podium on which a candle’s flame gently flickered, Kern summed up the purpose of the solemn ceremony: “We gather here, in sorrow and solidarity,” he said. “We are a people of hope, and courage, and resolve, and we know from our many faith traditions that love is stronger than death.”

A wood peace pole flanking the podium reinforced the power of his words through its hopeful inscription: “May peace prevail on earth.”

The ser­vice fea­tured a reading of the names of the 20 children and six adults who were killed at the Newtown, Conn., school. A bell was rung in remembrance of each life lost and a rose was placed on the podium in honor of each victim.

Troy Neves, a Northeastern undergraduate student who grew up in Newtown, reflected on the difficulty of moving forward after a tragedy strikes home. “Going back to school has been difficult and can be isolating because everyone at home is going through the same things and grieving together,” he said. “Today means a lot to me and my peers from Newtown, because it reminds us that we are not here alone.”

Richard O’Bryant, the director of the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute, invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in calling for an end to gun violence.  The nation will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day next Monday.

“If Dr. King were here today, he would ask us to think about how we deal with the problems and difficulties in our lives,” O’Bryant said. “It is incumbent upon us to carry his message of peace and hope so that we may contribute to a better tomorrow.”

Prior to the closing of the 30-minute cer­e­mony, Kern led the singing of a song called “Peace, Salaam, Shalom.” He prefaced the song by sharing these words of encouragement: “We must look deep into our conscience and in our hearts and ask ourselves what might we do as agents of change so that there may not be another Newtown.”