Ringing of bells a remembrance of shooting victims

Church bells hold a particular meaning this time of year.

Their peals aren't restricted to the Christmas season, but they always seem a little crisper in the colder air, a reminder of what the season is about.

On Friday, there is a movement to have them make a much more somber statement. Rather than a celebration, they are to be a remembrance of 26 innocent people -- including 20 children -- who were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

In Georgia, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland, at the suggestion of his assistant, Leslie Blalog, was promoting the idea of churches and other places of worship ringing their bells 26 times at 9:30 a.m. Friday, once for each of the school victims.

This is being done in other states as well. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has asked churches and other places of worship in his state to ring their bells 26 times at that time, declaring Friday to be a day of mourning for the victims.

In Georgia, the call has been picked up by the Georgia Municipal Assoiciation and appears to be spreading throughout the state, officials said.

Ringing bells won't change anything in regard to the shootings, but it does serve to pay a tribute to the school personnel who lost their lives trying to protect the children, and to the children whose lives were ended in such a horrible manner. It keeps them from being forgotten.

And they should be remembered -- Charlotte Bacon, 6; Daniel Barden, 7; Rachel D'Avino, 29; Olivia Engel, 6; Josephine Gay, 7; Dawn Hochsprung, 47; Dylan Hockley, 6; Madeleine Hsu, 6; Catherine Hubbard, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; Jesse Lewis, 6; Ana Marquez-Greene, 6; James Mattioli, 6; Grace Audrey McDonnell, 7; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Emilie Parker, 6; Jack Pinto, 6; Noah Pozner, 6; Caroline Previdi, 6; Jessica Renkos, 6; Avielle Richman, 6; Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30; Mary Sherlack, 56; Victoria Soto, 27; Benjamin Wheeler, 6, and Allison Wyatt, 6.

That so many of these victims were so young is what makes these senseless murders even more horrible than the others that have occurred. They should be celebrating the holidays, brimming with excitement over the school break and making lists for Santa.

Even now, the story feels more like one concocted for a novel than something that actually happened.

We hope that families, whatever their faith, will make this holiday season one filled with a renewed sense of love for one another. The quarrels we have among ourselves are insignificant compared to the losses that the families of these victims are enduring, and will endure in the coming years and decades.

If nothing else, we should remember that as the bells ring on Friday.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board