‘Angel Light’ a sign of hope
Names of somewhat obscure towns dotting the country ‘ including Royal Oak, Mich. Washougal, Wash. Wesley Chapel, Fla. Plattekill, N.Y. Albany, Ore. Humble, Tex. Chicksaw Ala. Stratford, Conn. and Hanover, Pa. ‘ were brought together Christmas Eve by the actions of a 7-year-old Lanesville boy who wanted to do something to honor the Dec. 14 shooting victims ‘ 20 students and six adults ‘ at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
A couple of days after the shooting, Kameron Walter walked into his father’s home office where his dad, Tom, who is the Lanesville Town Marshal, was watching the nightly news that aired a clip about the shooting. The footage got Kameron’s attention and the two started having a conversation about the tragedy.
‘Most 7 year olds either wouldn’t care or wouldn’t have a clue, but because of what (wife Jeanne’s) medical background is and my law enforcement background, he’s more in tune to those things and is very perceptive. Kameron paused and said, ‘What about their Christmas? They won’t even have Christmas, Dad.’ That kind of got to me,’ Tom said. ‘Kameron has 23 kids in his class. What happened at Sandy Hook, that would have wiped out his entire class. That’s what makes you think.’
Tom and Jeanne joined their son in coming up with a way to honor those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary.
‘I just want to put a smile on the parents’ faces and for them to be happy,’ Kameron said. ‘I want them to know they are not alone.’
‘When I grieve, I make things. It’s how I cope,’ Jeanne said. ‘So, I made paper angel ornaments that we put on the tree. Then after we came up with the idea to honor the children, we put the ornaments in clear plastic cups, put lights inside and made a cardboard angel in the shape of a cross to hang the lights on outside.’
The Walters then took to the social networking site Facebook and started an event called ‘Angel Light of Christmas for Sandy Hook.’ The plan was for people to light a candle (or 26 candles) at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve to remember the lives lost.
Kameron said he had expected mainly people from Lanesville, and maybe Corydon, to take part. Instead, people from all 50 states and at least seven other countries lit candles for Sandy Hook.
Tom Walter originally invited about 400 people to take part. Word quickly spread and, by the time Christmas Eve rolled around, more than 57,000 people had been invited.
‘There were several thousand who accepted and there’s no telling how many people did it and didn’t accept the invitation,’ Tom said. ‘We had people from Morocco, the Philippines, Canada, Scotland, Japan and Australia do it, and a story about what we were doing appeared in a newspaper in India. Television stations in Louisville, Saratoga, N.Y., Tampa, Fla., Arizona, Michigan and southern California also aired the project.
‘It was really cool to have the support in other places, and I didn’t expect it. But what blew me away was the local support in Lanesville and the whole county,’ he said. ‘There were so many people who had candles out or lit candles in their homes. The firefighters in New Albany did it and not only honored those in Newtown, but also their brothers in New York who had been shot and killed. I went back and looked at the photos that were posted and the one that really sticks out in my mind is of a boy in Tennessee, wearing Spiderman pajamas and kneeling down in prayer with a candle in front of him.’
The couple said they will keep the lights burning indefinitely. Jeanne said she’ll keep the display up as long as it will last and then she’ll make a new one. The family didn’t want the candlelighting to only be at Christmas, so they’ve created a new Facebook page under the heading ‘Angel Light of Sandy Hook.’
No gun talk and no political debate is allowed, Tom said, ‘just people giving other people hope and to show they care.’