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Berks County community remembers Sandy Hook victim

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 12:10:16 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 04 2013 07:14:10 AM CST

Berks Community remembers Sandy Hook victim

ROBESONIA, Pa. -

A Berks Co. native returned to his hometown Sunday to attend a memorial for his daughter, one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre.

Charlotte Bacon was killed along with 25 others on Dec. 14.

"She was a beautiful six-year-old," said her father, Joel Bacon.  "She loved animals -- all kinds of animals."

This should have been Charlotte's birthday party.

"Last weekend, we celebrated Charlotte's seventh birthday," said her father.

Instead, Joel's classmates from Conrad Wesier High School organized a memorial for Charlotte at the middle school down the road.  Instead of birthday candles, the Class of 1988 lit candles for Charlotte and the other Connecticut victims.

"Although your darling daughter was with you just a while, she'll live on in your heart and ours, with a sweet remembered smile," said Pam VanOstenbridge, a classmate who helped organize the event.

Classmate Chris Caltagirone read a poem.

"Your life was such a beacon, your energy divine," he said.  "Your spirit will not leave us.  Your spirit will live on."

For someone who has gone through a tragedy none of us could ever imagine, Joel Bacon is surprisingly collected.  He said that's largely because of the support he got from people in Berks Co.

"The support from all of you here makes me proud that I have roots from this community," he told the crowd.  "Even though I live in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, I can still call this town of Robesonia and the Conrad Weiser community home."

And amidst tears, a local pastor called for action.

"Every person who's ever shown me their gun collection has shown it to me opening a locked safe.  Maybe someday that will be a given," said Rev. Wayne Heintzelman of St. Daniel's Lutheran Church in Robesonia.  "Maybe someday we will keep better records and use them so that people who have mental health issues can't purchase guns."

Charlotte Bacon's parents started a group called "Charlotte Bacon's Acts of Kindness."  More than a thousand children submitted their own acts of kindness to mark her birthday.