A memorial honoring the 20 first graders and six educators killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was opened to the public on Sunday, nearly a month before the 10-year commemoration.
The permanent Sandy Hook memorial, designed by Dan Affleck and Ben Waldo, was publicly unveiled in Newtown, Connecticut, where the mass shooting took place on December 14, 2012.
The memorial consists of a “circular network” of paths which lead visitors through woods, across ponds and meadows to the center – a fountain which sits in a granite basin engraved with the names of the victims, according to its description on the designers website. .
“The water spirals inward to a planter in the center, where a young sycamore tree is planted to symbolize the young age of the victims. The movement of the water embraces the tree and captures the energy, form and the cycle of the landscape around it,” the website states.
“Visitors are encouraged to give a candle or flower to the water, which will carry the offering through space in an act of bringing together the dead and the living,” he continues.
The design was selected from 189 submissions by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission after a five-year process.
Jennifer Hubbard, whose daughter Catherine Violet Hubbard was six when she was shot and killed, told CNN on Sunday that she first saw the memorial a few weeks ago and then again on Saturday for the inauguration official memorial for the relatives of the victims.
“I am grateful that Catherine is part of the memorial because this is a shared and sacred loss of 26 families,” Hubbard told CNN.
Hubbard said she appreciates the Newtown Memorial Commission and those involved in creating the tribute.
She describes the quiet space as “beautifully appointed” to reflect on the lives taken and affected by the shooting.
“This memorial goes beyond being a marker of everything we’ve been through,” Hubbard said.
“It’s a reminder of all that we, as a community, have come together to accomplish. It is a collective space for reflection where all who visit remember the healing, love and compassion we have sought to bring to the world,” she continued.
Hubbard founded an animal sanctuary in honor of his daughter Catherine. She hopes that projects like hers and that of the public memorial can bear witness to “humanity and[s] are good.”