As the sun rose over Washington, D.C., Thursday morning, volunteers and clergy members from Connecticut to California placed more than 3,300 grave markers on the National Mall to create a makeshift cemetery in honor of every person killed as a result of gun violence since the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
The symbolic graveyard served as the site for a 24-hour vigil on Capitol Hill that began Thursday around 11 a.m. as the Senate met to vote on whether to begin a debate on gun control legislation. The vigil, organized by the PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing and Sojourners, brought together religious leaders from various faiths who all spoke about the need for common-sense gun laws.
“We can’t ever go back home again,” said Rev. Sam Saylor of Blackwell Memorial AME Zion Church in Hartford, Conn., to the crowd. Saylor’s son, Shane Oliver, was gunned down at the age of 20 last year. ”Business in Washington can never be the same again. We can never take life for granted again.”
On her show Thursday night, Rachel Maddow spoke with Rev. Michael McBride, national director of the PICO National Network, about the vigil and the Senate’s 68-31 vote to move forward on possible legislation.
“We know this is just the beginning,” McBride said. “We have a huge and significant charge that is left within our care to move our Congress and our elected officials to enact the will of the American people, to make sure that they hear from us, to make sure they know that we will not accept partial solutions to comprehensive problems.”
He added that it was important for the voices outside of Washington to be heard. “Dr. King said we all live in a network of interconnectedness. We believe the pain of Newtown is similar to the pain of New Orleans, the pain of Chicago is similar to the pain of Aurora, the pain of Oak Creek is similar to Oakland. All the legislation that we are proposing will get us closer to the day we do not have to bury children…This is an opportunity for all of us to be united together. We believe the shared pain we have as a country can help us move forward.”