Christmas Day In Newtown

At a Sandy Hook memorial in front of St. Rose of Lima Church, Scoop Carlile kisses his son Cooper Carlile, 10, after Cooper placed dozens of cards from his fellow students at Pope John Paul II school in Houston. (MARK MIRKO, Hartford Courant / November 19, 2012)

"This is a gift to all of them," she said, looking down at a stuffed bear with a patch of snow covering his button eyes. "Love. That's what Christmas is. Giving back."

Police officers from throughout the state gave back to the Newtown Police Department on Christmas, so the local officers could have the day off. (Local dispatchers were still at work.) Five departments were represented on the day shift alone.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you. ... By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34–35

About 15 people from Baltimore, who speak out against gun violence in their city under the motto "A Mother's Cry," made the pilgrimage to Newtown.

One of them, Denise Rucker, read aloud from the Book of Psalms as she stood in front of a shrine to the victims.

"Things we have made monumental in this country seem so small in times like this," she said, when all that really matters is "life and love. And you can put an amen on the end of that."

Love will see us through. – poster in a shop window in Sandy Hook

Javed Rahman and Leslie Wang don't observe Christmas, but Rahman said they decided to drive up from New Jersey to see the memorials Tuesday because it is a special day.

"I woke up and was thinking about those parents, how they feel," Rahman said. Their daughter, who is not quite 6, was with them, although she doesn't know the scope of what happened.

They're raising her in Hong Kong, where they saw the news on TV on Friday. They had already planned a visit back to their former home in New Jersey to see friends.

Rahman, who lived in West Hartford in the late 1990s, when he worked for The Hartford in Simsbury, said he finds the National Rifle Association's prescription of armed guards in every school bewildering.

Wang agreed, noting that in Hong Kong, not even the police are armed.

Rahman, who spent more than half his life in America, and Wang, who worked near the World Trade Center on 9/11, said they were moved by the outpouring of support for Newtown.

"It reflects how compassionate people are toward each other," Wang said. "That's the beauty of this country."

Wang said the same thing happened in New York when the terrorists struck. "People could show their best after those crises. After those times, people could really come together, and be strong."