The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 28, 2013

Town of Tarboro employees honor Sandy Hook victims

The Daily Southerner

TARBORO — Town of Tarboro staff wore green Friday in a “celebration of life,” honoring the lives of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last month.

“We thought it was something we could do as a community, reaching out to another community to show support,” said Town Manager Alan Thornton. “We’re constantly trying to think of ways to unite not only our staff but as a community.”

Twenty-six victims, including 20 children, lost their lives in the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting rampage at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

“We’re remembering those victims because it was such an impact for the nation as a whole, so we wanted to remember them in a way and show support for Newtown,” said Morgan Whitehurst, senior citizen activity coordinator for the E.L. Roberson Center. “It’s a way of the town coming together and showing support and showing unity. When you have something like the tragedy [in Newtown], everyone can agree that those lives should be remembered and honored.”

Town Clerk Leslie Lunsford sent an email to staff Thursday reminding them to their green ribbons.

“We passed them out to all departments. Pretty much everybody participated,” Lunsford said. “For breast cancer awareness month, we did the same thing [with pink ribbons] and everybody participated in that, too…We’re trying to get into doing some positive things in the community.”

Thirteen town staff stood on the steps of town hall Friday morning wearing various shades of green, bright spots on the gray January day and reminders that life goes on, even after a tragedy like a school shooting.

“It’s nice to see everybody kind of uniting. A tragedy like this just brings everybody together,” Lunsford said. “It hit close to home. That same thing could’ve happened anywhere. It makes you appreciate things you take for granted.”

The first thing Lunsford did after the school shooting was hug her 3-year-old daughter, Rorie Lunsford, and she bets the tragedy gave others a greater appreciation for their families, and a reason to celebrate life.

As stated in Lunsford’s email to town staff, the month of January, being the first month of the year, “signifies a new beginning, a new life, a new happiness in many lives each year. Every community has a new hope to begin a new page in the book of life. Remember always to value the gift of life for all Americans pursuing life, liberty, happiness and justice for all citizens.”