Doves released as memorial for shooting victims
In a somber yet uplifting ceremony, 21 doves took to the skies above Westview Primary School on Dec. 20.
Esther Gandolfo organized the tribute to the students and teachers who were killed Dec. 14 during the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.
“I really keep the birds as a hobby,” Gandolfo said. “It was so quick. It’s the only thing I can give when someone’s hurting.”
Gandolfo said she’s brought her doves to memorials for the Charleston 9 and for soldiers from the tri-county. Her husband Sal Gandolfo and other family members were in attendance Thursday, the same day students and other victims of the shooting were laid to rest in Connecticut and New York.
Sal and Esther Gandolfo released the birds from a cage that was placed near the flagpole.
Mrs. Gandolfo said the birds fly back to their home on nearby Farm Road.
The doves, an international symbol of peace and love, were released as their feathers and wings flapped and blew in the wind of the warm December afternoon. Mr. Gandolfo said the birds enjoy flying on windy days such as this one.
“It was beautiful releasing this, trusting the faith, releasing them to the Lord,” Davis said of the memorial in Goose Creek. “It was a memorial that their lives didn’t stop. Their location might change.”
Summit Church Pastor and Charleston Southern University coach and instructor Jon Davis spoke briefly before the doves were released.
The Tabatha Vargo poem “The Field Trip” was given to some attendees. It was written the day of the horrific shooting: “Please don’t cry, we’re okay. / We went on a field trip today. / A secret place where there’s fun to be had. / And the principle’s [sic] with us, so we won’t be bad. / It’s full of toys and rainbow slides. / Cotton Candy and high cloud rides. / A funny zoo full of different things. / I even saw a man with wings. / We’re not alone so don’t you fear. / We’re chaperoned by Jesus here. / It’s really nice so I think I’ll stay. / And hold your spot till your field trip day. / Now Christmas is here and there’s toys to be given. / So please tell Santa that I’m in Heaven.”