Guest Post – Preston Ray – Newtown, Connecticut

Hi everybody. My good friend and fellow writer, Preston Ray, lives in Sandy Hook, as do I. Anyone who lives here has been shattered by what happened in our town. There is no escape from the emotional impact. I am not yet ready to put my thoughts to paper silicone.But Preston sent me an eloquent reaction to the event and to the tragedy tourists that seem to have invaded our home. I am proud to publish his sentiments.

An open letter to the gentleman taking pictures yesterday in Newtown
By Preston Ray

Yesterday you were here, with the out of state plates on your car. Taking pictures on your cell phone like this town’s pain was a tourist attraction. I fancifully wondered if you were going to buy a Christmas tree while you were in the area. (Maybe on Christmas day while gathered around the tree celebrating peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind you will show those pictures to your loved ones and brag about how you took the trip here?)

You should not think of what happened as my town. That tragedy is not Newtown.

If you came to visit me in Sandy Hook, you would see that Newtown is where I can take you to the CH Booth library and show you all the historical exhibits. Where you can buy a rubber duck at a local Lions club charity event and cheer as it “races” against others down a stream.

The Annual Sandy Hook Ducky Race, for Charity

You can go to the huge flagpole in the middle of the biggest intersection in town where we proudly fly the American flag (and ever since a car hit it in the late 70s we argue back and forth if we need to mar the sight by having traffic lights installed there).

The (in)Famous Newtown Flagpole

Where you can go out to Rams Pasture and watch the annual lighting of the holiday tree. Where for two dollars (and there was a lot of angst when it had to go up from one dollar) you can watch a movie in the town hall on Saturday night.

You could go out on a boat across Lake Zoar (because almost every time we have visitors, one of our neighbors who owns a boat offers to take us out) and hear my neighbor and me debate if the fries are better at Burgeritoville or the Lake Zoar Drive In (Lake Zoar Drive In of course!). Or come along as I take my dog for a walk down to the lake or over to the Paugusset State forest.   We’d have to stop, tho, if any of the neighborhood children, some of whom attend Sandy Hook Elementary School, want to say hello and pet the dog…because even though they probably won’t remember my name I guarantee you they’ll remember the dog’s). You might get your hair cut at the local barbershop and listen to the men joke about how the (mostly…even now in the 21st century) women organizing children’s trick-or-treating on Main Street show a level of strategy and tactical execution that would shame the generals who planned the invasion of Normandy.

Lake Zoar Drive-in.

Our First Selectwoman (because we don’t have a mayor, we have a First Selectperson, that’s how we roll in this New England town, homies…) Patricia Llodra has said, “We are a strong and caring place… we will find a way to heal.” And she is right. We will find ways to support the people who are supporting those who are hurt the most. The town of Monroe has opened up Chalk Hill School for us and I am sure in the days to come the neighboring towns will be there for us just as we have always been there for each other in the past. Connecticut and America will be there for us. Even from places as far away as Brazil, Baghdad and Estonia people are reaching out to express their support and compassion. So I know we will come together as a community and with the help of the world, come back.  Not better, but wiser and stronger.  So when you’re home and looking at the pictures you took on your cell phone, that’s how you should think of us in Newtown.


3 thoughts on “Guest Post – Preston Ray – Newtown, Connecticut

  1. Thanks for posting Roberto. Finding out my childs school was on lockdown and then the tragedy to follow made this the scariest day of my life. We have media harassing us on our door steps bc there are first responders and families who lost children on my street. Much love to u and your family and all our Newtown/sandyhook friends.

    • Yes, I think as parents, we all had the most frightening day of our lives on Friday. But Preston is right. We are stronger than this. I see neighbors hugging neighbors and people showering our town with support and good will. We will recover. When the cameras turn away, we will still be here, and we will be a stronger community because of this tragedy.

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