To recognize the seven year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and honor the victims of everyday gun violence, local organizations are partnering to hold a vigil Sunday at St. Monica Catholic Church from 4-5 p.m.
The upcoming interfaith vigil is part of a nationwide tribute and will be hosted by Santa Monica Interfaith Community, St. Monica Catholic Church and Los Angeles Chapter of the Brady United to Prevent Gun Violence, according to a news release, which described the event as an interfaith community gathering for healing and peace that will allow local residents an opportunity to share their own stories of gun violence and honor the more than 500,000 American victims and survivors of gun violence since December 2012
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years so I’ve met so many people who’ve lost a loved one due to gun related violence,” organizer Suzanne Verge said, listing the names of children, teens and adults who were killed in Santa Monica. “Whether it was because they were playing around with the gun (or) suicides — there’s so many stories and I think there’s little things we can all do to prevent them.”
Every day 100 people will lose their lives as a result of gun violence, Verge said, “but if we just say 100 people died, that doesn’t always hit home so we’re also putting 100 candles together that will put a face and story to the deaths. Because when you put a face to it, you’ll think, ‘Yeah, I can do something.’”
Verge said she became involved in the organization of Sunday’s vigil, “because I just want to highlight the day-to-day gun violence that happens every day in America. It’s so sad knowing 60 of those are related to suicide and it’s young people being affected by this. We just really want to shine a light on that.”
Along with the 100 candles and stories that will be on display, there will be a bell ringing ceremony where guests can come forward and share a few words about a loved one and then ring a bell in their memory, according to Verge. “It’s really intense and very powerful because that’s what the event is about. It’s really about sharing our own stories and being there to remember our loved ones and support each other.”
There’s things residents can and should do, Verge added, mentioning she doesn’t want the event to become political but there will be discussion about safe storage.
“There are people in our community who have been taken from us,” Verge said, “and I think this is a nice way to remember them and share their stories while also honoring the others around the nation who have been affected as well.”