A memorial to the 26 people who died during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting quietly opened to the public on Sunday.
The opening comes nearly a decade after a shooting that left 20 children and six educators dead on Dec. 14, 2012.
The new memorial is beautiful and poignant, said Jenny Hubbard, whose 6-year-old daughter, Catherine Violet Hubbard, was killed in the shooting.
“I think it’s the same thing as a cemetery, a gravesite,” she said. “It gives people who choose to go there, if they want, solid ground, to have that moment of reflection and contemplate the impact on their own lives, or how it changed them.”
The new memorial also gives Newtown a place to put some of its grief, Hubbard said.
“This was not an isolated event where you just move on with your life,” she said. “Our community was impacted, and the memorial, I think, is a really poignant reflection place for everybody to honor what we all lost.”
The public unveiling of a memorial would occur with no formal dedication of the site, according to the Newtown Bee. Members of the public were invited in to honor the lives of those killed during the shooting.
The Danbury NewsTimes reports that a 5-acre nature garden will surround the $3.7 million memorial. Families of victims were invited to attend a private event dedicating the memorial on Riverside Road before the public opening.
As the 10th anniversary of the school shooting nears, Hubbard said she turns to another space for solace. If she wants to feel close to her daughter, she goes to the animal sanctuary established in her name.
“That’s where I encounter Catherine. That’s where I see her, and I feel her,” Hubbard said. “The memorial is not a place where I need to go and tap into that. I’ll go up to the sanctuary. For other people, it may be the memorial.”
Connecticut Public’s Patrick Skahill contributed to this report, which was first published Nov. 14, 2022.