A sizable crowd of Durham and Middlefield residents gathered at Coginchaug High School on Sunday night for a vigil to remember the victims of last week's deadly rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Emotions over the still unexplained rampage that claimed the lives of 26 people, most of them children, were still raw and could be heard in the cries of some in the crowd.
"Tonight is about supporting one another through our sadness and grief, and it is to send a message of support and hope to our neighbors and friends in Newtown," said District 13 Superintendent Susan Viccaro, one of several town officials to lead the vigil.
The vigil was one of dozens organized around the state in the wake of the tragedy including in Newtown where President Obama spoke Sunday night at the town's high school.
"We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children, and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school, in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America," Obama said.
In a steady rain, the town's first selectman read the names of the victims one by one before the crowd stood still in a moment of silence. (See video)
Gatherers were also led through song by Durham resident and former State Troubador Lara Herscovitch, and prayers.
"We share our hearts, not just with one another, but with the people of Newtown, especially with the families who are in the process of saying goodbye to someone they love so dear," said Rev. Dale Azevedo.
First Selectman Laura Francis reminded the crowd of the impact of the tragedy when she pointed out that two residents, Tim and Lynn McKenna, are grandparents to two children who attend Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Neither child was hurt in the attack.
"I also would like you to keep our first responders in your prayers. They will have the horrific memory of that crime scene in their heads for the rest of their lives. Please pray for them to be courageous the next time they respond," Francis said.
Tonight both towns will host a vigil along with the City of Middletown on the city's south green at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, funerals will begin today for the victims and continue through the week.
"I urge everyone, in the coming days and weeks, to reach out to one another, to support each other, and to move towards making our planet a kinder, gentler place," Viccaro said.