One of the 6-year-olds was so sweet his teacher said he should come to school wrapped in a bow.
Another loved princess tea parties,Justin Bieber and trips to New York. Still another,who rode horses,was hoping for a cowgirl hat and boots for Christmas.
One year later,the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,Connecticut,still evokes raw emotion and sadness. On Saturday,a day after another school shooting,this time at a Colorado high school where two students were wounded,the US paused to remember the tragedy and revisit the contentious issue of guns in America.
On December 14,2012,Adam Lanza,20,shot his way into the school he had once attended and murdered 20 first-graders,all aged 6 and 7,and six adults. Before heading to the school,he killed his mother,who had legally purchased the guns Lanza used that day.
Eleven minutes after blasting his way in,Lanza ended his rampage with suicide. The aftershocks live on.
Theres no guidebook for this,not at all, said Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis,a first-grade teacher who survived the attack by hiding with her students in a tiny bathroom adjacent to a room where other children and adults lost their lives.
Newtown officials say the town wanted to be left alone on the anniversary. Some of the victims families have encouraged those moved by the shooting to mark the day by performing an act of kindness in their own communities.
At the White House,President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence after lighting 26 candles to honour those lost their lives at the school.
In Newtown,at the Washington National Cathedral in the nations capital and elsewhere around the country,bells tolled in remembrance of those who died.
Some of the bells were rung by advocates of stricter gun control who see Newtown as a rallying call for action and refuse to let up despite setbacks. The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns says there have been 28 school shootings since Newtown.
A fierce snow storm blew through Newtown,where a flag was flown at half-mast on Main Street. There was also a heavy police presence in the town,including near the site of the recently demolished school.