CEA leaders, members, and staff gathered on October 20 to dedicate a memorial to children and educators who have been victims of violence. The bronze sculpture, created by Marilyn Parkinson Thrall, memorializes the 26 young children and teachers who lost their lives on December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
“This monument serves as a tribute to those innocent children and their heroic teachers,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “It is a reminder that the radiance and beauty of their lives endures, and we hope it will be a place of comfort and reflection for students, educators, community members, and others.” Cohen called the memorial a place of serenity, solace, and peace.
The memorial—sculptures of a teacher reading to her young students—was installed outside CEA’s offices in Hartford and includes a seating area, memorial plaque, and plantings.
“It tells people about the organization that is in this building and how much that organization cares about children,” said Jeff Leake, CEA vice president and president of the Connecticut Education Foundation, which commissioned and raised funds for the sculpture.
“This is a beautiful memorial that recalls a tragic time,” noted CEA Executive Director Donald Williams. “I remember meeting with the families of the children whose lives were lost at Sandy Hook. They spoke with great difficulty of the loss of their precious young children, full of joy and potential.”
Williams also recalled the teachers and administrator who lost their lives that day, calling them “professionals who shielded their students with unimaginable courage, who gave their lives as they did everything they could to save the lives of their students.” The memorial, he said, “honors and also transcends that memory. It is a peaceful reminder of the humanity of education, the gift of our children and students, and the dedication and strength of teachers who give of themselves every day to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Teachers took turns reading aloud the names of every child and educator who perished in the Sandy Hook shooting, and as the ceremony came to a close, Newington teacher Heidi Florian placed flowers at the foot of every sculpture.
I’m happy to see this memorial placed outside of the CEA building, where it may be viewed by all, not just those entering the lobby. It’s beautiful, and a reminder of what was lost five years ago.