Oak Lawn residents gathered with their children at the Village Green on Friday in a show of hope against some dark times in our country by lighting candles and releasing sky lanterns in memory of the Newtown, CT shooting victims.
Mayor Dave Heilmann orchestrated the candlelight vigil to honor the 20 schoolchildren and six teachers who died in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.
“Most of us have dropped our children off at schools and you see them walk or run in. Seven hours later you expect them to walk out with a smile on their face,” the mayor said. “We don’t expect to get a call with the words that no parent should ever have to hear.”
Heilmann said he couldn’t imagine telling his four children that their brother or sister wouldn’t be coming home from school, or walking into a room and seeing their toys and clothes knowing a child was never coming back.
“I don’t know what those families are saying to each other tonight or the words they use between the tears,” Heilmann said. “Maybe that way comes from other communities across the United States like Oak Lawn … maybe together we can bring a little light into their lives.”
After the mayor’s opening remarks, the Christmas lights on the Village Green went dark for several moments.
As Oak Lawn children read the names of the deceased Newtown first-graders, tearful parents hugged their own children a little tighter.
All about the Village Green community members of all ages held candles, even a baby in a stroller.
Sarah McLachlan’s melancholy “Arms of the Angel” flowed over the Village Green where Oak Lawn firefighters lit sky lanterns for each lost soul and released them into the night sky.
For a moment, the lanterns congregated together in the sky, then disappeared.