State employees audibly wept as the names of 26 victims were read at the state Capitol on Friday. The bell rang once for each of the 20 children and six adults who were killed by a gunman last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
The reading of the names took more than seven minutes.
“It’s hard to believe it was only a week ago that events would transpire that would shatter the lives of so many families in Connecticut,” Attorney General George Jepsen said.
But he said he was proud of the way the state has come together in the wake of such evil.
“We are gathered here joined by our sadness for a moment of silence, in what is a national day of mourning,” Jepsen said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman were in Newtown where they observed a moment of silence that was broken only by the sound of church bells.
At the Capitol they opened the doors and rang the 1948 Liberty Bell replica.
The Capitol ceremony organized by Consumer Commissioner Elin Katz was attended by state employees and political appointees who lined the stairs from the first to the second floor of the Capitol building.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said as a state Connecticut has wrapped its arms around the families who have lost their children.
“In some way all the children in Connecticut lost their innocence last week,” Merrill said. “We will always remember the way we feel today and act to ensure this never happens again.”
Mark Ojakian, Malloy’s chief of staff, said this is one of the biggest tragedies to ever befall the state. He thanked the scores of mostly state employees for attending the event on behalf of the governor.
Earlier this week, Malloy shed a tear after explaining how it fell to him to tell the families in the fire house a week ago that they would not be reunited with their loved ones.
It was only a week ago that Malloy raced out of the state Capitol headed to the Sandy Hook Fire Station where some of the 575 children at the school were being reunited with their parents. Victims’ families continued to wait even though four or five hours had passed.
Malloy made a decision to inform them their loved ones weren’t coming home.
That decision may have been the hardest decision he’s had to make in the two years he’s been governor.
“Those who know the governor, know he’s a caring and compassionate person,” Ojakian said.
After attending the first of the dozens of funeral services he attended this week, Malloy said there is little comfort he can offer these families.
At these funerals, he said you try to find words that are adequate, knowing they will be inadequate and “you see little coffins and your heart has to ache.”
“There are really no words to describe what it’s like to see these parents as I did on Friday,” Malloy said Monday. “It’s tough to see relatives and friends of these little children who died, as well as to see some of the teachers who have been so adversely impacted.”
On Friday, Merrill said she couldn’t imagine what kind of personal toll this event has taken on the governor.
Ojakian said Malloy and Wyman will continue to lead through this troubling time, and at some point there will be a time for them to address it on a more personal level.
“You have to be a leader, but at some point you have to be human,” he said.