gun violence

Conn. Episcopal Churches to Honor Victims of Gun Violence with Traveling Memorial

"Memorial of the Lost" works to honor Connecticut men and woman killed by gun violence in 2022.

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Saint James's Episcopal Church in West Hartford is now the site of a unique memorial.

Rows of white t-shirts are displayed in the front lawn, representing a Connecticut life lost to gun violence.

"Mostly sons, fathers, mothers, grandmothers. They're people and they were loved, they are loved. And they're missed," said Rev. Bob Hooper.

Hooper wasn't alone in this effort - children from Camp Washington in Lakeside joined in, carefully printing more than 40 victims' names, ages and death dates on each shirt. One was only in high school. Another was an elderly woman.

"We were thinking about projects that we can do with the youth to make them feel like they were making an impact," said Cameron Taylor, Camp Washington's director and program manager.

"I think the thing that struck me the most is we were writing the names on the shirts. One of the youths looked at the date that one of the people died on and remembered what they did that day. It was stunning to them to think that someone somewhere lost their life to gun violence," Taylor said.

Eight women and 33 men make up the powerful display for a total of 41 people killed in the state by gun violence. It doesn't count children, accidental gun fire or death by suicide.

"These were all put together by middle school kids. And it was really interesting the six kids that did it. That experience, that they had some kind of...power. They had some kind of advocacy and opportunity in this," Hooper said.

Together, they used the National Gun Violence Memorial, a database that tells the victim's story.

A former defense lawyer of 48 years visited the site Thursday.

"It was also striking to me that the most recent of the t-shirts is in honor of someone who died three weeks ago," said Margaret Levy of West Hartford.

That shirt honors 30-year-old Marisol Dumeng who was killed in Bridgeport on May 28.

The memorial will be updated every month. Tragically, five more shirts will be added to honor those who lost their lives in June.

After two weeks, the memorial will move to other Episcopal churches throughout the state so that other communities can participate in remembering the men and women whose lives were cut too short.

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