Category: US Society / December 19, 2012 3:08 PM EST
The funeral for 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto was held in Connecticut on Wednesday (December 19), following a deadly shooting rampage at her elementary school five days ago that left 20 children and six adults dead.
Wednesday also saw the funerals for four more children as well as the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary which was stormed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza on Friday (December 14). After killing his mother at home, Lanza drove to the school and used a semi-automatic assault rifle to kill 20 children and six women.
At the Lordship Community Church in the Connecticut town of Stratford, Soto, who taught first grade, was remembered in a touching memorial service.
The young teacher died while shielding her students from the shots fired by Lanza.
Family and friends gathered to remember a woman who was described by her sister, Carlee, as having a fun-loving spirit.
Connie Delottinville, who graduated with Soto from Stratford High School, spoke to Reuters Television and said, "She was one of the most beautiful people, like the really super popular person, but she was friendly with everyone, like she did not have a mean bone in her body, always smiling and laughing and you could hear her down the hallway. She was a great person and so this is just such a tragic loss and we were going to have our 10-year high school reunion next year and I was really looking forward to seeing her and seeing everyone again and this is quite a damper on things."
A friend of the family, Arlene Bernor, said Christmas was Soto's favorite time of year and that she hoped her family would take solace in the good memories.
"It's going to be tough, I'm sure. It would be tough for any of us, but hopefully they'll remember the happy times, the good times, the times that make Christmas special for Vicki. I'm sure that they'll be able to pull through. They're a strong family. They're a loving family," Bernor told Reuters.
Funerals were also scheduled for 6-year-old Charlotte Bacon, 7-year-old Daniel Barden and 6-year-old Caroline Previdi, while the family of 7-year-old Chase Kowalski invited mourners to a public visitation and prayer vigil.
The massacre of so many children, all of whom were just 6 or 7 years old, shocked the United States and the world and renewed debate over gun control in a nation where the right to bear arms is protected by the Constitution and fiercely defended by many.
Around the globe, newspaper editorials from the Philippines to South Africa urged stronger U.S. gun-control efforts and said they were long overdue.