Jenna von Oy Keeps Newtown Hometown In Her Prayers

"I express my love and support for the town that has given me so many wonderful memories," the actress writes

Photo: Courtesy of Jenna Von Oy

Every school shooting I’ve ever heard about has been exceedingly heartbreaking and has stirred feelings of both rage and sorrow in me. Each one is tragic and awful, and there have been far too many of them in recent years.

But Friday’s massacre in Newtown has affected me in a profoundly personal way, as I have a unique perspective on the town … I am blessed to have grown up there.

My family still lives in Newtown and, in my heart of hearts, I still consider myself one of its residents. My attachment is deep-rooted. We are mourning the loss of some of our own this week, and it is a sobering reminder that violence does not discriminate. It can hit close to home.

I am fiercely proud to say I was born and raised in Newtown. It is where I was brought home from the hospital, attended my first day of kindergarten, learned to ride my bike and climbed my first tree.

As I watched President Obama’s press conference, I sobbed as he mentioned that the children who died had their whole lives ahead of them: graduations, weddings, having children of their own. I have celebrated every one of those milestones in Newtown.

I graduated from Newtown High School, got married two years ago in a bed and breakfast on its Main Street, and recently had my daughter christened at St. Rose, where the vigil was held Friday evening. Newtown is the foundation of my history and it holds a very special place in my heart.

It is nearly impossible to unscramble my thoughts and put them to paper at a time like this, but I wanted to express my love and support for the town that has given me so many wonderful memories.

I hope my intent isn’t misunderstood here; this is not about me. This is about a peaceful, beautiful, wonderful place I’ve called home since my childhood; I am feeling very protective of it after Friday’s crisis. This is about the people who are left to pick up the pieces after an unfathomable hardship.

I grieve for the parents who lost their beautiful, innocent babies; some of them were friends from high school. My heart hurts for the families who have to explain this loss to the frightened children they brought home.

Newtown has always been the epitome of a quintessentially quaint New England town. It resembles a Norman Rockwell painting, and I know it will be all too easy for that image to be marred by these appalling events. But Newtown is so much more than this shocking incident, and I desperately hope America will see that.

I know, with absolute certainty, the residents of Newtown will rise up with love and strength in the face of their suffering. When you think of my hometown, I hope you’ll think beyond this moment in its history.

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When the news first reported the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, my emotional spectrum ranged from stunned and horrified, to inconsolable and numb. I am still feeling all of those things, and I don’t expect that to go away anytime soon. This isn’t something that’s easily reconcilable.

Moreover, I share the overwhelming grief of the families affected by this tragedy. As a parent, I don’t know how to make sense of it, and I am hugging my daughter that much tighter tonight because of it. No parent should ever have to experience a loss such as this one. It is unspeakable, and there is nothing fair about it.

There aren’t enough prayers to ease their pain, but I’m giving it all I’ve got, regardless. It is all I have to give, and I hope you’ll join me. Beyond that, there are no words.

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