Mark the Date, Not the Town. Call It 12/14.

This opinion piece about Newtown is being read around the world. What do you think about it?

I live in Newtown, Conn. Most of you have heard of my town by now. It’s a sweet place, with a $2 movie theater, a two-hour Labor Day parade and an old-fashioned general store. Our 100-foot flagpole stands tall in the middle of Main Street, a symbol of our small-town-America status.

You know also that Newtown is suffering. A man shot and killed 20 of our schoolchildren and six of our educators in a matter of minutes on Dec. 14. Since then, green and white ribbons, the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School, adorn our jackets, as we console each other and proclaim that we are Newtown Strong. Our shared grief is so thick you can almost hold it in your hands. As a town we weep unexpectedly and openly, just as our governor, Dannel Malloy, a tough former assistant district attorney from Brooklyn, choked up as he spoke during the opening of Connecticut’s legislative session. As one woman told me, standing by the cucumbers in the grocery store, tears welling in her eyes, “You just never know when it’s gonna hit ya.”

As a community, we are shattered, but we are buoyed by the strength and grace of strangers. There is the artist from Winder, Ga., who hand-painted and mailed 100 shiny red-and-black ladybug stones to Newtown Youth and Family Services on New Year’s Day, because ladybugs bring luck and love. “Share them with anyone in need of a smile,” she wrote. There are the folks who made by hand dozens of children’s cooking aprons with Winnie the Pooh, Big Bird and Bob the Builder fabrics. The aprons, an icon of innocence and hope, would have been a perfect fit for the children whose parents had to bury them just before Christmas. At the town bagel store, as Anderson Cooper chatted with a nun who stopped by from nearby St. Rose parish, a man from Manhattan phoned in to pay for breakfast for all the patrons. There have been countless acts of kindness and generosity, and Newtown is most grateful.


Many have asked, What can we do? Well, here’s my answer: For the sake of the victims, their families, Sandy Hook and Newtown, call the shooting 12/14.

The national media have, insensitively, begun to call 12/14 “Sandy Hook” or “Newtown.” Listening to TV the other night, I heard someone say, “We just don’t want another Newtown.” Ouch.

Our friends in Columbine know. Our friends in Aurora know. Our friends in Oklahoma City know. Having your town’s name synonymous with an evil act does not aid the healing process; in fact, it adds to the pain and casts shadows. Here in Newtown, we have seen enough darkness. We need your light, your love and your support.

In her eloquent address to the nation, Newtown’s first selectman, Pat Llodra, claimed that the tragedy would be a defining moment for our town but that it would not define us. Yet, if the media succeed in naming this unthinkable event Newtown or Sandy Hook, it will define us.

Call the tragedy 12/14. That’s not only the day it happened; it’s also the number of beautiful children and talented educators taken from us that day: 12 + 14 = 26. If we call that day 12/14, we shift the focus from where these horrors happened to when they happened and how many lives were lost. And, sadly, we also know this could have happened anywhere.


In 2001, al-Qaeda’s attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania were initially dubbed the attack on the World Trade Center. But the folks mourning the attacks on the Pentagon and Flight 93 spoke up, and the moniker morphed into 9/11.

The media were sensitive; citizens were sensitive. Let’s do that again.

Newtown, Conn., would rather hear “I don’t want to see another 12/14” than “I don’t want to see another Newtown.” Further, a Commission on 12/14 sounds better than a Commission on Sandy Hook. I suspect that the people who live in Newtown, Pa., and Sandy Hook, N.J., feel the same way.

By naming the tragedy 12/14, we honor the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting, their families and their town. 12/14. Think it. Say it. Help Newtown heal.





This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

LP February 01, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Beautiful. I totally agree. Never made the 12+14=26 connection. As the author stated, it makes the "12/14" designation even more pertinent. Good job.
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Thanks, Sue.
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:35 PM
On behalf of town, thank you.
Tony February 01, 2013 at 06:37 PM
12/14 is a great idea. If you decide to do that then it should read 27 victims. I noticed that St. Rose had 27 Angels in front of the school. 27 murders took place on 12/14. I believe people like to refer to Sandy Hook because it focuses only on the 26 murders and not the one that took place in the house.
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:37 PM
A public relations big shot who works with Bono said it's not too late. Think positively! We can do this together.
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Thanks, Nancy!
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Thanks, Lisa. Give Sarah a hug.
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Thanks, Dave!
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Thank you, homeward bound, for the kind reply!
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Thanks, LP.
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Thanks, Stephen.
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 06:40 PM
You got it, Sd!
Beth Kershaw February 01, 2013 at 06:49 PM
As someone who considers Newtiwn as my hometown even though I've been gone for many years, I say 12/14 it is! You have my support without hesitation!
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 07:08 PM
The repulsive single act of domestic violence is not what turned this into a national tragedy; the 26 left dead from the school shooting did.
Shirley Conrod February 01, 2013 at 07:44 PM
A great way to memorialize 12/14. Forever in our hearts❤❤❤❤❤
Shirley Conrod February 01, 2013 at 07:50 PM
I love Newtown. I am privileged to have a wonderful and loving part of my family as Newtowners. I am Newtown
Richard Hooker February 01, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Too late, the train left the station. I disagree with this article. My town has a name. It is not a number.
Richard Hooker February 01, 2013 at 09:52 PM
JMJM Chip February 01, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Not sure that is fair and I am sure we are all certainly sad for Oregon,Colorado, Virginia tech...it's all horrific and sad, period. My good friends sister was killed last summer in the theater shooting. As for Maryann's point, it's unfair for you to judge and it's NOT thoughtless. It's actually well thought out and makes sense. Why should the media decide to 'solidify a historical name' for OUR town's nightmare? We aren't changing the town name to a date, we are changing the name that the media has given to OUR towns tragedy.
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Beth, We'll leave it up to you to spread the word in your town. Thank you!
maryann murtha February 01, 2013 at 10:54 PM
To use your metaphor, the word train comes from the Latin word, traher, which means to pull or draw. The idea is to pull or draw the negative connotation of the tragedy away from Newtown and Sandy Hook. Further, the train is just getting steam. Let's be The Littlest Engine That Could: "I think I can, I think I can."
Richard Hooker February 01, 2013 at 11:13 PM
I am seeing quite a positive come from this. With all the hope and courage, and change and community. I do not dwell on the negative aspect of it at all. Its not healthy to do that. I don't know where you see negative at all. Yes, we still are in a lot of pain, but there is an overwhelming sense of goodness here now.
Sandy Hook February 02, 2013 at 09:20 PM
We are a place, not a number. It should be Sandy Hook (or Newtown) -forever. Just like it is Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Tucson. Sept 11th was in many areas, but we often refer to the Twin Towers, World Trade Center or Ground Zero to be specific about NY.
Sawyer February 03, 2013 at 12:49 AM
I agree with you Sandy Hook. This is Newtown or Sandy Hook, Connecticut, "not 12/14"!
Thomas Crafts February 03, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Who remembers the date of Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech? Nobody.
maryann murtha February 03, 2013 at 04:26 PM
That's exactly it, Thomas. We, as a nation, need to mark not only the date, but the number of innocents who perished during the school shooting.
maryann murtha February 03, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Agreed, we are a place, a place where the unthinkable happened, but, as Laura Main commented, "When my 10-year-old first heard the news referring to this as 'Newtown,' his response was, 'That is just wrong. It is not "Newtown.' It is 'what happened in Newtown.' Out of the mouths of babes. This was a horrific event, but is not "Newtown." We are so much more than this."
maryann murtha February 03, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Thank you, LP. Let's spread the word and memorialize the day. 12/14 It has to start with us.
Anna Duncan February 03, 2013 at 06:56 PM
No matter what "other" name you want this tragedy to be called....it is and will always be known as "Sandy Hook" or "Newtown". Just like other horrific events of the same manner, they are known by their names. Why on earth would anyone WANT to give it an additonal name? This would lead to not only remembering the horror of Sandy Hook, then we would all have the date to remember the horror on 12/14 EVERY year. There is enough suffering and trauma and grief. I just can not fathom why anyone would want to give it an ADDITIONAL name...sad, so sad.
Nicole February 03, 2013 at 09:38 PM
This tragedy is not Newtown though, it happened in Newtown, and I think that is the point trying to be made. Newtown for me will always be the 15 years I lived there before that day and all of the time I live there after. It will be where I went to school and watched the tree lighting, went trick-or-treating on Main Street. Newtown is not that one event it is home. For those of us whose home it is, I agree that it should be known by the date. I think it would memorialize those who were lost better, helping to show that it was not just this town who lost people. Victoria Soto was from Stratford.


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