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Oak Park Woman Looks to Light Up the Town in Support of Newtown, CT

Lighting candles on door stoops, an Idea begun by Rachel Rettberg, will keep victims and families in the minds and hearts of area residents this holiday season.

As in so many efforts, mothers seem to light the way.

And like so many others, Rachel Rettberg felt helpless in the wake of the horror that struck Newtown,  CT Dec. 14.

Rettberg has three sons. One, Charlie, is 8, about the age of those who died. She felt it must have been mortifying to parents who found that their children were not coming home. And no matter where she was or who she was talking with, the shootings were on people's minds.

But unlike natural disasters, where people can donate money, there didn't seem to be things that she could do to show that the victims and the town were on her mind.

Then the day after the shootings she found a way.

During a visit to St. Giles Parish on Saturday, her oldest son J.P., who is 10, asked to say a prayer for the victims and he lit a candle. Candles signify warmth and peace, and candles are lit to remember people, she thought.

She began lighting her own candles on Monday evening and plans to continue doing that at least through Christmas.

"There's nothing you can say or do for the families," said Rettberg. "This is a symbol of the sorrow we feel for what happened."

Over the weekend Rettberg sent out email to the Horace Mann School community, where her sons go to school.

And the idea just took off from there, as other families began lighting their own candles in the evening, in a show of support for the people of Newtown.

The word spread quickly. Soon it was posted on Facebook pages, including Oak Park and River Forest High School. District 97 included it in its weekly email blast.

The message of the memorial has even stretched across the Pond. Her mother, who lives 40 miles east of London, has lit one.

And lighting a candle, Rettberg said, is something that her children can do to remember as well.

"It's something the children can see," she said. "It's an individual action for a family to do."

To read more about the how the town is rebuilding after the Sandy Hook tragdey, please see our Newtown, CT Patch site for full coverage of the events.

Matthew December 20, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Thank you for this story. We have a candle lit in Carmel, Indiana and via Facebook family have lit candles in Australia. Such an idea and good deed is surely all that is good about our race.

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