Sandy Hook anniversary: President declares National Day of Remembrance

It’s been 10 years since 20 first graders and six teachers were killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

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To remember those lives lost, President Joe Biden has declared Dec. 14 as a national day of remembrance.

In the proclamation, Biden said that instead of the students being 11th graders and the teachers preparing lessons for new students “their desks are forever empty, their families are left with holes in their hearts, and our Nation is missing a piece of its soul.”

Biden said the Sandy Hook families “have suffered unimaginable loss but have turned their pain into purpose. For some, that has meant advocating for gun safety laws to protect other families from experiencing the same grief. For others, it has meant starting foundations or programs that honor those they lost.”

One of the foundations is the Sandy Hook Promise.

The group, started by several family members, tries to honor all victims of gun violence. It says that by “uniting all people who value the protection of children, we can take meaningful actions in schools, homes, and communities to prevent gun violence and stop the tragic loss of life.”

In a news release leading up to the 10th anniversary of Sandy Hook, the foundation said that in almost every major school shooting in the country, there had been warning signs before the shooting happened, according to data compiled by the U.S. Secret Service. Sandy Hook Promise has a program called “Know the Signs” that teaches those warning signs and when and how to tell a trusted adult about their concerns. All programs are given at no cost to schools.

As for the commemorations marking the day, the Connecticut town will hold vigils and people will be able to pay their respects at a new memorial to the lives lost, Reuters reported.

The memorial was constructed near the new school that was built after Sandy Hook Elementary was torn down after the shooting, The Associated Press reported.

The anniversary comes weeks after court rulings against Alex Jones and his Infowars website where he said that Sandy Hook was a hoax. Jones has been ordered to pay approximately $1.5 billion to the families, Reuters reported.

The families of those gunned down also reached a $73 million settlement with gunmaker Remington, which made the gunman’s rifle, the AP reported.

It also comes six months after Washington lawmakers passed major federal gun reform through a bipartisan bill weeks after another elementary school mass shooting in which two teachers and 19 students were killed in Uvalde, Texas.

Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that, according to him, “cracked down on gun trafficking and increased resources for violence prevention.”