Retired educator honors shooting victims with memorial

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Clarence Mora and his family felt a need to do something to honor the 20 elementary students and six adult staff who were shot and killed on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The family designed the memorial, and with permission erected it on the front lawn of the Los Lunas Schools Special Services building at Main Street and Luna Avenue in Los Lunas.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Clarence Mora, of Los Lunas, who is a retired educator from Belen Schools, designed and erected a memorial to the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims on the front lawn of the Los Lunas Schools Special Services building on Main Street and Luna Avenue.

“It touches us, because it could happen any time, at any school,” Mora said. “I’m a retired educator, so I’ve been in that setting.”

He said he had never seen anything like the mass shootings in Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary while he was growing up.

“We’re shocked — horrified,” he said. “We’re feeling for these people over there. We want to show support, caring and love for them.”

The memorial consists of a banner with the name of the school, and wooden poles decorated with red ribbons.

Mora’s wife, Melba, and their daughter, Paula Venegas, wrapped the three-foot tall stakes and made the ribbons for each one of the victims.

Mora had the 10-foot wide banner made at a local graphic arts business, and laminated small signs with each victim’s name and age placed at the base of each stake.

His son, Antonio, also contributed, and his grandson, Joshua Krause, of Belen, helped drive the stakes into the ground and mount the banner.

Each stake is accompanied by a luminaria with a tall votive candle, which Mora lit before Christmas.

“We want to show that we’re united with them even though they’re over there,” he said.

A few local big box stores assisted with some of the supplies, including The Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart. The Home Depot also offered to help set up the memorial.

“We kept it in the family, it’s a family thing, you know,” he said. “It was a family project.”

Mora is a retired educator from Belen Consolidated Schools and has grandchildren in both the Los Lunas and Belen school districts.

Setting up the memorial was emotional for them, he said, as they thought about each young student and teacher. Cars honked as they passed the memorial.

“It’s been an act of love,” Mora said.

He pointed out that a fund has been set up to provide counseling and other services for Sandy Hook Elementary students and staff. If you would like to contribute, send your checks or money orders to Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, Conn., 06470.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.