Actually it’s a trip I make at this time every year, going to some of the smaller towns around Danbury to see the Christmas lights on display.
But I normally don’t go in the wee hours of the morning as I did today.
Going at that time today was for selfish reasons.
I wanted to go to the Sandy Hook part of Newtown to pay my respects and do so without the media around. I’ve more than had my 15 minutes of fame in life, I don’t need anymore particularly when doing something so personal and private.
Driving through Newtown was like any other year during the Christmas season.
Older homes, some Colonial in age, had the simplest of displays with a white light in each window, other homes had the full regalia of colorful lights.
The large evergreen tree next to the Edmond Town Hall was adorned in simple almost blue in color white lights and the Hall itself had a simple string of white lights along its roofline.
Yes all seemed normal in Newtown except for the iconic flagpole in the middle of the intersection of Rt 6 and Rt 25 as the Great Flag was at half-mast.
Continuing from the flagpole on Rt 6, now on the long downward hill of Church Hill Road, again all seemed as it should be. Shops, houses and the couple of small shopping plazas had welcomed the holiday.
It wasn’t until driving on the bridge overpass of I-84 would one begin to perhaps see something out of place. There were placards on the bridge but in the dark the average passerby wouldn’t pay much attention if they had no knowledge of what had transpired six days ago and a couple of miles up ahead.
Nothing out of place continuing on until a mile or so on the left was a tent, one which someone might put up in their backyard for parties. Next to the tent was a truck with its boom extended to which a large American flag was hanging and on this very small parcel of land was a sign which read “Media Keep Out”.
This was the first alert to a passerby in the darkness that something was amiss.
And it wasn’t long past that spot and coming into the quaint New England village part of Newtown called Sandy Hook that things changed.
There were SAT trucks parked on the street and nearby behind another building. At the signaled intersection where Rt 6 continues left the road ahead which leads to the Sandy Hook Elementary School was blocked with a lone police officer and car with its red and blue lights on.
Orange cones prevented parking in some spots while others were placed out in the road to give a wider berth for the sidewalk. This wasn’t the normal Sandy Hook at Christmas time, this was the Sandy Hook during a time of unspeakable tragedy.
There were less than ten of us as I got out of my car with my cane helping me limp across the street to Sandy Hook’s own large evergreen tree adorned with colorful lights. And there was the ever-growing memorial which has been seen so much these past days on TV.
All kinds of ornaments now hung from the tree, many notes of well wishing and candles and teddy bears. My God so many teddy bears just waiting for the little children to take them home but never will.
Those few of us who were there didn’t say a word to each other, we didn’t have to. We just acknowledged each other with a nod and a forced smile. We each took our time walking around the tree, pausing to look and read and offer a moment of silence in our own way.
As I started to leave I looked across to the road which leads to the Sandy Hook Elementary School, stood for a moment wiping the tears from my eyes, gave out a deep sigh and just shook my head and said softly out loud to myself as so many have said, why ?
For the most part the mass media has been respectful to this community, its people and families affected by this event. But there is no more to report, no new photo ops to be taken. What news will still develop can be reported from studio utilizing “pool” and affiliate news reports and information from the local CT media and AP in Hartford. The LIVE on scene reports from the national and international press are no longer required.
It’s time to let Sandy Hook and Newtown and our area to grieve privately and begin the healing process.
We thank them for being here but we now ask them to leave. The time has come.