NEWTOWN, Conn. - In the center of town, just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary, a memorial of tangible sympathies has been built by the contributions of those who care. People from all over Newtown, the state of Connecticut and the country have come to pay their respects.
Angela Salvatore, of Stamford, Conn., said she was an EMS for New York State during the 911 attacks.
"When you have that amount of death, you need some closure. You need some healing, and you need to do something for these people," Salvatore said. "It's tragic."
She said she wanted the people of Newtown to know there are "good people in this world that care."
"We are not all bad. There are good people," Salvatore said, "people who have hearts and that care."
Brian Cooney is a 15-year-old student at Newtown High School. He said he didn't know anyone directly affected, but returning to school would be hard. He said he was sure some of his fellow pupils would have had siblings involved.
As for the influx of outsiders into Newtown, Cooney said they were an absolute positive.
"It's amazing, honestly," Cooney said. "This is a small town, things don't happen like this. Ever. You hear things about this on the news -- you never think it comes to your home town. There's people from out of state and Texas and everywhere. We appreciate it."
Sridhar Mallepally brought his family from Manchester, Conn. He said they came to pay their respects to the children. His son Rishi, a second-grader, said he wanted to bring a teddy bear, but that they couldn't find a store that had any left. When asked why he wanted to leave a teddy bear, he said simply, "Because I feel sad."
"Sure, this is an isolated situation -- it's not the only one -- but this is the biggest one in the U.S. history. So we are all sad," Mallepally said. "The town gets some kind of encouragement, and the kids get some kind of hope going back to school fearlessly."
Barry Ogowetsky came with his wife from Yorktown Heights, N.Y., to bring flowers to put down for the children.
"I'm hoping that they find some kind of comfort and see that we're here to support them and that they're not alone," Ogowetsky said. "And that none of this will be forgotten."
He said Newtown was a place he had only driven through before. After 45 minutes on foot, his impression was it was a lovely place -- that the people of Newtown seemed so together, that they love their town, that they love their school, their teachers, their children. He hoped visits like his would give them some level of comfort.
Joe McCarthy, a Sandy Hook resident who was watching the president's speech in a local tavern, said he was happy people were coming to pay their respects, but everyone must remember to pay their respects respectfully, as Newtown is a town still in shock.
"Whether somebody travels a relatively short distance within the state, or comes from out of state to pay their respects and show their support, it's an admirable thing. There is a crisis. Whether it be families that are directly affected by this event or families that are indirectly affected by this event -- where they don't have loved ones that have passed -- it still affects them," McCarthy said.
"I didn't have any children in that school. I live a mile-and-a-half down the road. It didn't directly affect me, but it affects me. And it affects everybody that surrounds me, just because of the proximity. But that doesn't mean it doesn't affect somebody halfway across the country, because we're all still Americans. It affects all of us. We all live in the same world, and this is a tragic event."