Charleston joins the nation in mourning the loss of 20 Connecticut schoolchildren

Nancy Downie holds her daughter, Lola Downie, 8, during a candlelight vigil Sunday at Smythe Park on Daniel Island in memory of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Buy this photo

Lowcountry residents continued to mourn the slaying of 20 Connecticut schoolchildren Sunday.

About 200 adults and children gathered around the lake at Smythe Park on Daniel Island to hold candles, sing Christmas songs and pray.

Many of the children, their faces lit by candles, were the same age as those shot to death Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“The demographics are so similar to our school and to Daniel Island, it’s shocking,” Heather Jones, a parent, said before the vigil. “It’s so hard to explain to the kids and to understand ourselves.”

Amy Dietrich, also a parent, choked up as she prayed for the families of those who were killed.

“Although we will never know the pain they are experiencing, our hearts are heavy with their loss,” she said during her prayer. “We pray that we will have a strong faith so as not to live in fear but rather to look to you, Lord, for the security that only you can provide.”

A boy ended the vigil by calling out, “Let there be light in the world of Newtown, Conn.”

Earlier Sunday, as darkness fell in Marion Square in downtown Charleston, about a dozen people silently held candles by the colored lights of the giant Christmas tree.

“I have trouble dealing with bad things that happen to little children,” Jack Formichella of Charleston said after the vigil. “I can’t imagine what the families are going through.”

About 30 people held a vigil in downtown Summerville on Saturday.

“In the wake of such darkness and tragedy we find ourselves feeling helpless, lost in the feelings of grief and horror,” Lisa Schiller said in an email before the gathering. “We need to remember we have strength with our unity and our prayers. Let us light a candle and stand together to share our grief and spread our prayers, love and hope for all who have been touched by this tragedy.”

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or

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