Portage City Hall opened its doors on Saturday evening to give community members the chance to come together and mourn following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Local residents poured into City Hall for the candlelight vigil to show their respect for the victims of a tragedy.
“We are gathered here to grieve, remember and reflect our losses,” Mayor Jim Snyder said. “We are gathered to gain strength from each other and our community. We are gathered to ask our Creator’s help in this terrible storm.
“May we learn that each moment that we spend with our children and grandchildren is a gift from the Almighty. May we also have a better respect for our first responders, who have to live with these tragic nightmare memories forever as they move each little one to their resting place. May this evil make us more circumspect and vigilant to what our children are doing: what video games they play, what they watch on television, who their friends are and how they treat others. Only in a great country can we get stronger through acts like these. We may be weak in the heart today, but we will be better and strong tomorrow. So, God help the city of Portage today and may God help America.”
The attendees were given time to reflect on the atrocities during a moment of silence. Snyder led the group in several songs, including “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America.”
Pastor Dennis Ticen from First United Methodist Church of Portage was in attendance to lead the prayer.
“Three hundred and sixty five times in the scriptures we’re told, ‘do not be afraid.’ Tonight, we gather here in grief and we gather here in loss,” Ticen said. “God, we thank You for this night and for our Mayor opening up this place so that we can come here and pray as we think of those folks at Sandy Hook Elementary.”
Snyder extended a special “thank you” to City Councilperson John Cannon, Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham and City Councilperson Matt Scheuer for attending the vigil. He also stood outside the conference room as people exited and thanked each person individually for attending.
“Five o’clock on a Saturday is an interesting time, so I just want to thank all of you for taking the time out of your busy schedules today,” Snyder said. “Thank you all; what a showing of unity.”