Park City on Thursday evening held a memorial marking the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a gathering that included community leaders, teachers and students remembering the lives lost and talking about the emotions of the past six days.
The gathering occurred in frigid weather outside Park City High School. The crowd, appearing to top 75 people, was quiet and solemn as they listened to speakers from City Hall, the Park City School District and the faith community. The crowd was a mix of students and adults. Many held candles as they stood. Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council interrupted a meeting at the Marsac Building to attend.
Rob Anderson, the area director for a nondenominational faith-based group called Young Life, delivered remarks with a rhetorical theme of why the tragedy occurred. He said the entire nation is asking similar questions.
"This question of why, and It's a really, really huge question. In fact someone said the other day that if you have a simple answer, that's not right," Anderson said. "Don't listen to the person who thinks they have a simple, simple answer to the why question, because it's very complicated."
Anderson said perhaps the question of why does not need to be answered but instead people need "a little more hope." He spoke briefly about the genocide in Rwanda and questions about the presence of God when tragedies happen.
"I believe in my heart that God was weeping last week. He was absolutely weeping," Anderson said.
The crowd huddled together close to the speakers as the wind blew. An American flag flew stiffly in the wind just behind the crowd. Some offered prayers while others spoke of the anguish in the United States after the tragedy.
Moe Hickey, a member of the Park City Board of Education, talked about the emotions and urged people to perform 26 random acts of kindness to remember the 26 victims at the Connecticut elementary school. Hickey said violence occurs too often in the nation and that it must stop. He urged people not to forget what happened in Connecticut.
"Are we really better than this," he asked, rhetorically.
Tommy Brown, the student body president at the high school, was in the crowd on Thursday. He said in an interview approximately 50 students from the high school and middle schools were in attendance. He said the memorial provided an opportunity for people to gather to recall what occurred.
"You can't hold it inside. You have to be open with it," he said about the emotions.
Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council interrupted a meeting at the Marsac Building to attend. The mayor spoke on behalf of the other elected officials.
Memorial for victims of Newtown
He said Thursday evening was not intended as a discussion about issues the nation faces, apparently a reference to gun policies. Williams addressed some of his remarks to the youngsters who were in the audience. He said many kids involved in violence need help.
"We used to have a 'don't ask, don't tell policy,' and the anti-bullying program has been so successful," Williams said. "I would suggest that we have a 'do ask and do tell policy' when you see people that are in need of help. You're the ones who can actually do something to help them."