Flags flew at half mast on state buildings and the bell in the bell tower on the Capitol grounds tolled twenty-six times at 9:30 a.m. Friday as Virginians joined people across the nation in a moment of silence to remember the victims of last week’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Gov. Bob McDonnell – like many in the gathered crowd – was teary-eyed as he reflected on the tragedy that took the lives of 20 young children.
"I ask you to gather here this morning to stand in solidarity with the people of Connecticut, particularly the heartbroken town of Newtown," McDonnell said. "What happened last Friday at just about this time was something that was unfathomable I think in most of our minds.
"I know as a parent with five children I know to think of someone going into a school and slaughtering 20 innocent, beautiful children – six and seven years old – along with six of their teachers and administrators is just something as human beings we have a real hard time even getting our hands around how something that evil and that violent can take place in our great country, the United States of America...
"I ask all of you as we listen to the bells to reflect in our daily lives what can we do to bring about a more just society – a more fair and equitable world in which we live and in which we’re raising this next generation of young children. Find ways to reduce our focus on violence; to increase understanding between peoples of all races, faiths and national origin.
"We all have this basic human dignity that God has planted in our hearts, that’s what the scriptures say. So what can we do as individuals, as Virginians, to be able to bring about a fair, more just, less violent state, nation and world? All us have the unique God given talents in that respect and I think all of us can do some things that will make a difference."