A child lines up with firefighters outside the funeral for school shooting victim Daniel Gerard Barden, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown
For a third straight day Wednesday, funeral processions rolled through a grieving Connecticut town trying to make sense of the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults in an elementary school less than two weeks before Christmas.
Dr. Joseph Young, an optometrist, said he has already been to one funeral and plans to attend two or three more, reports The Associated Press.
“The first few days, all you heard was helicopters and now at my office all I hear is the rumble of motorcycle escorts and funeral processions going back and forth throughout the day,” he said. “It’s difficult. It’s just a constant reminder.”
Most students in Newtown went back to school Tuesday except those from Sandy Hook Elementary, where a gunman armed with a military-style assault rifle slaughtered the children and six teachers and administrators Friday. He also killed his mother at her home. If police know why, they have not said.
Students at Sandy Hook, which serves kindergarten through fourth grade, will resume classes in a formerly shuttered school in a neighbouring community in January.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday pressed Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. He also called for stricter background checks for people who seek to purchase weapons and limited high capacity clips.
“This time, the words need to lead to action,” said Obama, who set a January deadline for the recommendations.
In the meantime, mourners overlapped at back-to-back funerals that started Monday and will continue all week.
The first of Wednesday’s funerals in Newtown was for 7-year-old Daniel Barden, a gap-toothed redhead and the youngest of three children whose family described him as “always smiling, unfailingly polite, incredibly affectionate, fair and so thoughtful towards others, imaginative in play, both intelligent and articulate in conversation: in all, a constant source of laughter and joy.”
Hundreds of firefighters formed a long blue line outside St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church as bells sounded and bagpipes played. Daniel wanted to join their ranks one day, and many came from New York, where his family has relatives who are firefighters.
Family friend Laura Stamberg of New Paltz, N.Y., whose husband plays in a band with Daniel’s father, Mark, said Daniel was a thoughtful boy who held doors for people and would sit with another child if he saw one sitting alone.