A homemade memorial to the 20 children and others mass-murdered in a Connecticut elementary school last week was set up Dec. 18 in Monument Square, the work of well-known peace and anti-war activists Carlos and Melida Arredondo.
Carlos Arredondo spoke to the Gazette while erecting the memorial with zip ties on the Civil War Solider’s Monument fence at Centre and South streets. It includes 20 white crosses representing each murdered child, seven more unpainted crosses for the crime’s adult victims, American flags and toy stuffed animals. It also includes a separate list of the victims and a reference to Arredondo’s late son Brian. The display makes a striking juxtaposition with the City “holiday tree” on the other side of the fence.
“We need to do something. Gun control, something,” Carlos Arredondo said, adding that he hopes the memorial will make people think, whatever their conclusions. He said that a memorial vigil in the square may be in the works as well.
The Soldier’s Monument and its fence are City property.
“The memorial will be allowed to remain temporarily on the property,” said Parks Department spokesperson Jacque Goddard. “It is a spontaneous gesture of how deeply touched the general public is about the events in Newtown. The events of last week still weigh heavily on all of us and the temporary memorial is a reflection of that.”
The Soldier’s Monument is capped with a statue of a Union soldier leaning on a rifle. It also bears the names of 23 local residents killed in action in the Civil War—four fewer people than were killed in the Connecticut shooting spree.
Alexander Arredondo, Carlos’s son and Melida’s stepson, was killed in action in the Iraq War several years ago. Since then, they have become prominent peace activists, gaining national media attention. Carlos regularly stages anti-war displays in the square. The Jamaica Plain post office last year was dedicated to Alexander, who was a former JP resident.
While best known for anti-war activism, the couple is also involved in general efforts to stop violence. Carlos said that he and Melida recently attended activist demonstrations against the country’s outsized homicide rates in California, shortly before the recent school shooting.
The violent and untimely death of children is a personal issue for the Arrendondos, and not only because of losing Alexander. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of another son, Brian, whose suicide was attributed to unresolved grief over Alexander’s killing.
On Dec. 14, a deranged man went on a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 young children as well as six adult staff members. A short time before, he had also murdered his mother, and ended his own crime spree by killing himself. The incident has shocked a nation already relatively used to gun-related mass murders and has drawn international attention as well.