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December 21--  Citizens gathered in the morning cold Friday to remember the 26 children and educators killed a week ago by a deranged gunman at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.


The Vidalia Prebyterian Church hosted the memorial which started at 9:30 a.m., the same time the shootings started at the school.

{mosimage}Reverend Kevin Hicks conducted the service with prayer and named each of those killed.  The church bell was rung for each victim.  He agreed to share his message with our readers.

Opening Prayer

O God, who gave us birth,

you are ever more ready to hear than we are to pray.

You know our needs before we ask,

and our ignorance in asking.

Show us now your grace,

that as we face the mystery of death

we may see the light of eternity.

Speak to us once more your solemn message of life and of death.

Help us to live as those who are prepared to die.

And when our days here are ended,

enable us to die as those who go forth to live,

so that living or dying, our life may be in Jesus Christ our risen Lord.

And now, source of all true wisdom,

calm the troubled waters of our hearts,

and still all other voices but your own,

that we may here and obey

what you tell us in your Word,

through the power of your Spirit.


Mark 10:13-16,   The Little Children and Jesus

 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

 Charlotte Bacon, 6

 She was sweet, outgoing and full of energy.   She loved school and dresses. Her hair was a mass of beautiful red curls.

Daniel Barden, 7

He loved to ride waves at the beach and make s'mores around the bonfire with his cousins.  "He embodied everything that is wholesome and innocent in the world," the family said.

Rachel D'Avino, 29

She likely didn't know it when she died, but her best friend was about to propose.

He had recently asked Rachel's parents for permission, and he was planning to ask for her hand in marriage on Christmas Eve.

"Her passion was her occupation as a behavioral therapist working with children within the autism spectrum"

Olivia Engel, 6

Her favorite stuffed animal was a lamb; pink and purple were her favorite colors.

Her family described her as a "grateful child ... never greedy." Each night, Olivia led grace at the dinner table.

Josephine Gay, 7


Dylan Hockley, 6

He loved video games, jumping on a trampoline, watching movies and munching garlic bread, she said. He had dimples, blue eyes and "the most mischievous little grin"

Chase Kowalski, 7

At 6, he completed his first triathlon, but that was just one of his pursuits. He loved baseball. He was in the Cub Scouts. He looked forward to the kids' workshop at the local Home Depot.

What Chase really wanted for Christmas was two front teeth.

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47

She became Sandy Hook Elementary School's principal two years ago.  She was "really nice and very fun, but she was also very much a tough lady in the right sort of sense," and the students loved her. "Even little kids know when someone cares about them, and that was her,"

Madeleine Hsu, 6

Catherine Hubbard, 6

Jesse Lewis, 6

Jesse loved math, riding horses and playing at his mom's farm.

His father said that his son was to make gingerbread houses at school Friday. He was planning to help.

Instead, the last time he saw his son was when he dropped him off at school at 9 a.m.

Ana Marquez-Greene, 6

"1, 2, 3, ready and go," Ana counts down in a homemade video   The girl in pigtails stands in front of a piano as her brother plays. Her voice is clear, bigger than her size. Ana smiles and waves.  She was "beautiful and vibrant."

James Mattioli, 6

He looked up to his older sister, wanting to do everything she could.

"They were the best of friends, going to school together, playing games together, and making endless drawings and crafts together."

The boy, whose family fondly called 'J," will be incredibly missed.

Grace McDonnell, 7

The ultimate "girly girl." Grace loved wearing pink and playing dress-up with jewelry.

She loved art, gymnastics, soccer and her small spaniel, Puddin'.

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

A hero. That's how a first responder reportedly described Murphy to her father.

Her body was found in a classroom, covering young children killed in the shooting in an apparent attempt to shield them.

"She died doing what she loved. She was serving children and serving God,".

A married mother of four, Murphy was artistic and hardworking.

Emilie Parker, 6

She could "light up a room.  Her laugh was infectious.

She was "an exceptional artist and she always carried around her markers and pencils so she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for someone."

Her father recalled his last conversation with his daughter was in Portuguese, a language he was teaching her.

"She said that she loved me, and I gave her a kiss and I was out the door," he said.

Jack Pinto, 6

His interests ran the gamut - baseball, basketball, wrestling, snow skiing. But his first love was football, and his idol was NY Giants star receiver Victor Cruz.

Cruz paid tribute to the team's young fan by scribbling "Jack Pinto. My Hero" on one of his cleats and "R.I.P. Jack Pinto" on the other during the team's game with the Atlanta Falcons over the weekend. On his glove, Cruz wrote, "Jack Pinto. This one is 4 U!"

Noah Pozner, 6

"He had a huge heart and he was so much fun, a little bit rambunctious, lots of spirit.  He was really the light of the room."

He loved playing with his cousins and siblings, especially his twin sister.

Caroline Previdi, 6


Jessica Rekos, 6

She loved everything about horses -- horse movies, horse books, drawing horses and writing stories about them.

She asked Santa this year for new cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat. Her family had promised she could get her own horse when she turned 10.

Avielle Richman, 6

She was happiest when she was on a horse.

She would "giggle when she trotted."

Like kids her age, her first wobbly tooth was a sign she was growing up.

Lauren Rousseau, 30

Rousseau, a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, "wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten.

Mary Sherlach, 56

She was Sandy Hook Elementary's school psychologist.  She was with the principal when they heard a "pop, pop, pop" sound around 9:30 a.m. She was shot to death after heading into the hall to find out what was happening.

Victoria Soto, 27

She would not hesitate to think to save anyone else before herself and especially children. She loved them more than life, and she would definitely put herself in front of them any day.

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

His family moved to Newtown from New York City in April 2011 so he could grow up in a quiet community.

He would follow his dad around the yard, helping him with chores by handing him tools.

Allison Wyatt, 6{mosimage}

Closing Prayer

Merciful God,

You heal the broken in heart

and bind up the wounds of the afflicted.

Strengthen us in our weakness,

calm our troubled spirits,

and dispel our doubts and fears.

In Christ’s rising from the dead

you conquered death and opened the gates to everlasting life.

Renew our trust in you

that by the power of your love

we shall one day be brought together again

with all of your children.


Loving God,

give us the faith to believe,

though these children have died,

that you welcome them

and will care for them,

until, by your mercy,

we are together again in the joy of your promised kingdom.


Grant this, we pray, through Jesus Christ our Lord.





May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with you now and evermore.