Nearly a year ago, our state was confronted by an act of confounding evil.

For many of us, the emotions we felt that day and in the days after are still raw, as if the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened only a moment ago. Of course, no one feels this more than the families and friends who lost a loved one that terrible day.

There has been much conversation about how to recognize the one-year anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown. Undoubtedly, many of us will seek an outlet for the grief and loss that remains close to our hearts. We saw time and again last year the basic goodness of human character, as the people of Connecticut came together in the aftermath to help each and every one of us persevere.

We remember the mental health professionals who dedicated their days to helping people cope with the unthinkable; the first responders who for all of their training could never have been prepared for something like this to occur and yet preformed their jobs with honor; the craftsmen who worked around the clock to reopen a new school in neighboring Monroe and the countless others.

Our state’s motto during those days became “26 acts of kindness,” and in that spirit, we
came together in grief and helped forge a path forward.

It’s my belief that the best way to honor those we lost is to find again the spirit of compassion and togetherness that we felt in the days that followed the heartbreaking events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Donate to a local charity, volunteer your time in service to your community or simply come together with friends and family and appreciate the time that we have together.

I also believe that we need a moment to grieve for all that was lost.

Last year on the one-week anniversary, I asked houses of worship and other organizations to ring their bells 26 times at 9:30 in the morning as a way to honor each life. I want to renew that call this year and ask those same institutions to toll their bells again at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 14.

The message of these two actions is simple: a moment to come together and mourn, followed by acts of kindness to one another.

We can never fully understand and will hopefully never experience the pain that those most affected by this tragedy feel. But what we can do is always keep them in our prayers — and we can act.

A year ago, we responded with a resolve to help our fellow residents. We need that same kind of response now.

It’s my hope that, with every milestone we pass, those who lost a loved one will continue to take steps through their healing. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of them. I can imagine no way better to share in their grief than to resolve to make the world a better place than we found it.

It’s my hope the way we observe this solemn day takes us even the smallest step forward to that goal.

Dannel P. Malloy is governor of Connecticut.