Despite biting winds, increasingly slick roads and snow, the community of Moundsville gathered Friday for a moment of silence, broken by the ringing of a lone bell 26 times for the victims of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
"This is done at the request of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin," said Marshall County Commissioner Don Mason. "All the counties of West Virginia are asked to take a moment of silence in honor of the victims in Newtown."
Representatives from all over the Moundsville community gathered for the bell ringing ceremony at 9 a.m. outside the Marshall County Courthouse, including faculty and staff members from Marshall County Schools and Moundsville City Council. The bell in the courtyard was used for the ceremony.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Marshall County Sheriff John Gruzinskas rings the bell outside the Marshall County courthouse 26 times for each victim of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
As the bell ringing ceremony began, Mason spoke to the crowd briefly.
"We're here today to pay our respects. We just can't imagine what those families are going through." He then asked all those present to take a few moments of silence to remember the victims.
Marshall County Sheriff John Gruzinskas then stepped forward and rang the bell 26 times, one toll for each victim.
The community continued to extend its support for the families of the victims in Newtown with a vigil at noon on Jefferson Avenue.
Local resident Mandy Moore said she came up with the event because she was devastated by the news of the shooting.
"I am a mother," said Moore. "Having three kids of my own, it (the massacre) really stuck with me. It still does. I just can't shake it; none of us can. The world is not what it once was."
Councilman Phil Remke of the Moundsville Activities Committee was also brought into the project, purchasing candles for the vigil and getting businesses on Jefferson Avenue to participate. Snow was falling and the wind was blowing hard, but residents and business owners still came out on Jefferson Avenue to take a moment of silence.
Law enforcement and firefighting vehicles drove down the street with their lights on, but no sirens as a sign of respect.
"It's cold, but our hearts are warm to those families, who we cherish as our own," said Remke.
Moore noted that the weather may have caused a decrease in the number of participants, but she held her candle in the wind anyway, surrounded by her family.
"That's all that matters, really," said Moore. "This is our way of giving back love and support for those who need it right now."