The mother of a first-grader killed in the Newtown school shooting rampage spoke out against gun violence Sunday on the second anniversary of the massacre, saying it has broken the hearts of other mothers across the country.
"And just like our hearts were broken and we can't breathe, the hearts of the mothers in Ferguson, in Bridgeport, in Hartford, in Florida, in New Haven, in Danbury, they can't breathe," said Nelba Marquez-Greene, who lost her daughter, Ana Grace, on Dec. 14, 2012.
"And we should care. We should care when our children are lost to gun violence."
Marquez-Greene, speaking at The First Cathedral's church service in Bloomfield, recalled the moment two years ago when she and her husband were in the Newtown firehouse, where officials were informing parents of the 20 children slain along with six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She and her husband found their son, now a fifth-grader, but not their daughter.
"But in that same firehouse," she said, "my husband and I knew Ana was with Jesus and that we would see her again."
A troubled 20-year-old gunman had shot his way into the school. He shot and killed his mother before driving to the school, and he committed suicide as police arrived.
Marquez-Greene asked anyone feeling despair and the desire to commit "a senseless act of violence" to ask for prayer and "to know that we love you." She said she went to Washington to speak out against gun violence but felt that change would come not from the leaders there but "from us."
Greene's husband, Jimmy Greene, a saxophonist and composer who has dedicated a new album to their daughter, also spoke and played at the service.
Other churches across Connecticut remembered the victims Sunday as the Newtown community quietly marked the anniversary. At Newtown's St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, bells rang out and the victims' names were read.
The town held no official public memorial events Sunday. Officials said would be for private reflection and remembrance.
First Selectman Pat Llodra and school Superintendent Joseph Erardi said in a public letter that the community's recovery has been a "challenging journey, filled with days of joyful hope and occasional dips of despair"