At six-years-old, Ben Wheeler had perfect pitch, loved soccer, and playing with his big brother, Nate.
A month after Ben and 19 of his first-grade classmates were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, his parents, David and Francine Wheeler, joined with families of the other victims to honor their children by launching the Sandy Hook Promise, a pledge to work to end gun violence.
“I love the idea that this group has put forward that Sandy Hook, and Newtown will be remembered not for the tragedy, but for what started here,” David Wheeler said in an interview with Rachel Maddow Monday.
Francine Wheeler, wearing a necklace filled with some of Ben’s ashes, said that her family had stayed away from news footage of the shooting and had not kept track of the legislative debate over gun control spurred by the tragedy. However, she said the time was right to have a discussion about common sense steps to prevent a similar atrocity from ever happening again.
“It’s really not about your party right now, I really feel like it’s about our children. So I would say that at this moment my gut’s telling me that we need to continue talking about the children,” she said.
It’s a resolve echoed in the mission statement of Sandy Hook Promise, which calls for civil conversation from all sides, but most importantly, demands action.
“This is a promise to turn the conversations into actions,” the pledge reads. “Things must change. This is the time.”