Eagle Mountain residents plant tree for Emilie Parker

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EAGLE MOUNTAIN -- As the country continues to mourn the victims of last week's Connecticut school shootings, a Utah woman felt moved to do something in her community to honor the lives so tragically cut short.

For Eagle Mountain resident Deb Devey, it started with a new tree. Though it certainly isn't the biggest tree around, what it represents can't be measured in size.

Devey planted it at a park in honor of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school when a gunman opened fire on her classroom. Emilie's death was especially personal for Utahns because her parents are from Ogden, and much of her extended family still lives there.

Reality hits home when it's your kid's age and you could put yourself in that situation.

–Deb Devey

On Tuesday evening, Devey organized a vigil around the tree for all the victims of the tragedy. Even though Newtown is some 2,300 miles away, to those in attendance, it felt much closer.

Kassy Stuart was one of the mourners. She said she wasn't going to miss the vigil for anything.

"I work in a school, kids all day long," she said. "It just hits way too close to home. I can't imagine the pain."

No one really can, which is why Devey felt so strongly about doing something to show her support.

"Reality hits home when it's your kid's age and you could put yourself in that situation," said Devey.

Devey had planned on a candlelight vigil, though the cold and wind didn't make that easy. Still, bad weather didn't keep supporters away.

As the names of the victims were read, every parent in attendance held their children tighter. For many, the children killed in the massacre reminded them of their own - making their grief all the more intense.

"Their birthdays are just so close to these poor babies that are no longer here," said resident Kassy Stuart.

For those like David Asay, the vigil represented the start of the healing process, and served as a reminder to all to be a little kinder.

"We need to be forgiving and find a way to move forward," he said. "That's what I think this is about."

The group would like to plant 26 trees in the Eagle Mountain park - one for each victim of the school shootings. For now, they're still working on getting the trees.


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