A memorial honoring the 20 first-graders and six teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting opened to the public Sunday, nearly a month before the 10-year commemoration.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial, designed by Dan Affleck and Ben Waldo, was publicly unveiled on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, the site of the mass shooting.
The memorial consists of a “circular network” of paths that lead visitors through woodlands, past ponds and meadows to the centerpiece — a fountain that sits in a granite basin carved with the victims’ names, according to a description on the designers’ website. .
“The water spirals into a planter in the center, where a young sycamore is planted to symbolize the youth of the victims. “The movement of the water embraces the tree and captures the energy, form and cycle of the surrounding landscape,” the website says.
“Visitors are encouraged to place a candle or flower in the water, which will be carried across the offering site in an act of bridging the dead and the living,” it continues.
The design was selected from 189 submissions by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission after a five-year process.
Jennifer Hubbard, whose daughter Katherine Violet Hubbard was six years old when she was killed in the shooting, told CNN on Sunday that she first viewed the memorial a few weeks ago, then again Saturday for the memorial’s official dedication to the victims’ loved ones.
“I’m grateful to be a part of the Katherine memorial because it’s a shared and sacred loss for 26 families,” Hubbard told CNN.
Hubbard said he appreciates the Newtown Memorial Commission and those involved in creating the tribute.
She describes the quiet space as “beautifully appointed” to reflect the lives the shooting took and affected.
“This monument is more than just a symbol of everything we’ve been through,” Hubbard said.
“It’s a reminder of what we’ve achieved together as a community. It is a collective space for reflection that reminds all who visit of the healing, love and compassion we strive to bring to the world,” she continued.
Hubbard founded an animal shelter in honor of his daughter Catherine. She hopes that projects like hers and the public memorial will show “humanity and humanity[s] Good.”