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Oak Lawn will hold vigil tonight for victims of Newtown massacre

By Laura Bollin

Oak Lawn residents and village officials will gather at 7 p.m. tonight, to honor the victims of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting and their families on the Village Green, 95th Street and Cook Avenue.

In honor of the victims, the Christmas lights on the Village Green will go dark for 27 minutes on Dec. 27, Mayor Dave Heilmann said, and families will come together and light candles in their memory.

"All over this country, people are in tears," Heilmann said. "You see the faces of those little children, you think about those teachers and how hard they fought to protect them, you think about these families, Christmas - the pain for them must be unbearable."

Heilmann, a father himself, said he cannot imagine losing a child.

"I have four children (ages) 10 and under," Heilmann said. "I cannot imagine dropping them off for school and one of them not coming home."

On Dec. 14, gunman Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and killed 20 students, six adults, and himself after killing his mother, Nancy, at her home in Newtown. Several funerals were held last week. People across the country have written signs and letters for the families, or held candlelight vigils in their towns. The 27 minutes of darkness is in honor of the shooter's mother and the students and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School who were killed.

The candlelight vigil will serve as a reminder that people in Oak Lawn are thinking about the people in Newtown and what they are going through, Heilmann said.

"By turning off the decorations for 27 minutes we are saying that on Earth, this holiday season has a little less light," Heilmann said. "By lighting candles, we are saying that our families are thinking about yours and that is so much closer to the true meaning of Christmas."

People can bring cards or letters that they wish to have mailed to Newtown, Heilmann said, to provide comfort to the families in their time of need.

"Perhaps families across Illinois will join us for 27 minutes by having vigils in their communities or turning off lights at home for 27 minutes," Heilmann said. "Together, let's send up those prayers. These families need them."