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'Contemplative, tranquil': Sandy Hook memorial commissioner looks back on one year since opening

The memorial to the 26 people who died during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting quietly opened to the public in Newtown, Connecticut November 13, 2022.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
The memorial to the 26 people who died during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting quietly opened to the public in Newtown, Connecticut November 13, 2022.

A permanent memorial to the victims of the 2012 Newtown school shooting has now welcomed visitors for over a full year and will remain open to the public through Thursday, which marks 11 years since the tragedy.

The site at 32A Riverside Road includes paths and a water feature nestled in a clearing of woods. A ledge surrounding the water feature includes engravings of the names of the 20 children and 6 educators killed in the 2012 attack.

Alan Martin, a retired university administrator and longtime Sandy Hook resident, served as vice chairman of the commission that oversaw the memorial’s design and construction.

“Everyone says the same thing: What a beautiful site,” Martin said. “The location, the serenity, surrounded by woods. It’s really gotten to be far better than what we expected.”

He said the response from visitors to the “contemplative, tranquil” atmosphere at the site has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I’ve probably been on boards and commissions for 50 years,” Martin said. “This is my proudest – sort of a capstone, the most important board I’ve ever served on.”

Martin said after Thursday, on which no official ceremonies are planned, the memorial will close for the season and reopen in the spring.

The monument was dedicated in a private ceremony in November of 2022 attended by survivors, first responders, community members and officials including Gov. Ned Lamont before the memorial opened to the public.

Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.