A memorial honoring the 20 first graders and six educators killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting opened to the public on Sunday, nearly a month before the 10-year commemoration.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial, designed by Dan Affleck and Ben Waldo, was unveiled publicly in Newtown, Connecticut where the mass shooting took place on December 14, 2012.
The memorial consists of a “circling network” of paths that lead visitors through woodland, across ponds and meadows to the center – a fountain that sits in a granite basin engraved with the names of the victims, according to its description on the designers’ website.
“Water flows spiral inwards towards a planter at the center, where a young sycamore is planted to symbolize the young age of the victims. The motion of the water embraces the tree and captures the energy, form, and cycle of the landscape around it,” the website says.
“Visitors are encouraged to give a candle or a flower to the water, which will carry the offering across the space in an act of bridging the deceased and the living,” it continues.
The design was selected out of 189 submissions by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission after a five-year process.
Jennifer Hubbard, whose daughter Catherine Violet Hubbard was six years old when she was killed in shooting, told CNN on Sunday that she first viewed the memorial a few weeks ago and then again on Saturday for the memorial’s official dedication for the victims’ loved ones.
“I’m grateful that Catherine is a part of the memorial because it is a shared and sacred loss of 26 families,” Hubbard told CNN.
Hubbard said she appreciates the Newtown Memorial Commission and those involved for creating the tribute.
She describes the quiet space as “beautifully appointed” to reflect on the lives taken and affected by the shooting.
“This memorial goes beyond being a marker of all that we’ve been through,” Hubbard said.
“It’s a reminder of all that we as a community have come together to accomplish. This is a collective space for reflection where all who visit are reminded of the healing, love and compassion we’ve sought to bring to the world,” she continued.
Hubbard founded an animal sanctuary in her daughter Catherine’s honor. She hopes projects such as hers and that of the public memorial may show “humanity and human[s] are good.”