By Vic Diaz (@TheVicDiaz)
With the first anniversary of the massacre that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, two Rhode Islanders have taken remembrance matters into their own hands.
University of Rhode Island student Matt Lodge, along with his brother, have adorned their house with Christmas decorations to memorialize the fallen victims of the shooting. The memorial displays various light shows, each with a holiday theme, while at the same time, showing reverence for the victims and their families.
Lodge explained the symbolism behind his decorative design, “This is a holiday memorial that I’ve built which consists of 26 lighted candy canes. There are 20, three foot high candy canes. Each one symbolizes one of the children, and there are six that are probably about five feet tall, and those symbolize all of the adults (who were killed).”
He also mentioned that behind each candy cane is a hand-painted plaque which contains the name of each victim of the shooting.
Debi Stravato, Lodge’s mother, shared her thoughts on the incident and recalled her emotional duress on that day. She said, “I remember exactly where I was, and I remember seeing that and thinking, “You know something; those kids really didn’t have a chance to even start their lives, and they were just innocent. I couldn’t imagine how I would have felt if that was somebody that I had known personally, if it affected me that much when it was people I didn’t even actually formally know.”
Lodge, a resident of Cranston, RI also elaborated on the man-hours it took to erect the memorial, as well as the significance behind this action. He said, “It took about 70 hours total just to put all of the lights up, it’s a way for us to remember kind of the highlights of all the children and six adults that passed away, and also just to remember them in a light that’s, you know, a little better than all of the sorrow and grief that we felt the day that it happened. We’re looking at the positive things here, and we’re remembering who they were and we’re not remembering that day. This isn’t a tribute to that day. This is a tribute to those lives of everybody who was lost that day.”