Change must come in the wake of last week's tragic slaughter, Norwalk Community College students and administrators said Tuesday evening, vowing to work to make that happen as they illuminated the night with candles in front of the school.
"I am sure many of you have been consumed with what happened in Newtown, Conn., Friday," NCC President David L. Levinson said to about 80 people as the candlelight vigil began. --¦ We here have the collective strength, one not only to come together and mourn, and comfort one another, but also to work on a solution."
The theme was repeated several times in the vigil organized by the college's student government.
"We will compound the tragedy of Sandy Hook if we don't seize this opportunity to change," said NCC Provost Jean Pamela Edington. --¦ We have a responsibility to take action to make our society less violent and to protect our children."
Student body president Ben Engel said the gathering warmed his heart, but he wished it wasn't happening. He said everyone there should reach out to friends, family and "children, especially those living in or near Newtown, who are being forced to face a fierce reality and need our support the most."
Life is "a collection of seconds," student Ryan Papolla, said.
"Seconds that you don't get back, that may change, that you hope to hold onto. Never stop trying to rise above. Take this moment, this feeling, make it mean something. We only get one shot at this. So live, in every sense of the word."
Patricia Frasier and Sophia Brown were among the many Norwalk residents who attended the event, which was open to the community. They took the time to write their thoughts on a large canvas destined to be delivered to Newtown.
"I just want to give my condolences to the people in Newtown," Brown said.
"I came here to support the families that are left behind. The families, the children ...I just feel very badly about things," Frasier said.
Their presence was appreciated by student body treasurer Manav Puri of Stamford. "I feel we had a great turnout," he said.
After the vigil, Puri talked with one of the school's deans about gun laws in other countries. It's tougher to get a pet in this country than to get a gun, they said.
"The gun laws in this country are definitely not strong enough," Puri said, adding that, in Japan, citizens have to take psychology tests and have a valid reason to want a gun to get a permit.
"In Canada you need references to own a gun," he said. "Meanwhile, in this country, you have street gangs with automatic weapons."