More than 1,200 miles from Newtown, Conn., about 80 people gathered Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis and marked the one-year anniversary of the elementary school shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six adults.

“A year ago, mothers across America got a shattering wake up call,” said Jane Kay, the local chapter leader of Moms Demand Action. “We imagined our own children in those classrooms, and our hearts broke.”

A solitary bell rang 26 times to honor each Newtown victim as Sonia Schantz of Minneapolis and others wiped away tears.

“It’s just sad that we can’t protect them,” Schantz said, adding that she joined Moms Demand Action after the Newtown shooting, moved to speak up as a mother of two little ones.

The memorial at Westminster was one of many across the nation to honor the Newtown victims and others of gun violence.

“I know their pain, I know their anger, the hatred and the devastation these families are going through,” said Mary Johnson, the founder of From Death to Life and whose son was fatally shot in Minneapolis in 1993.

“We don’t expect to bury our children.”

Kelly Smith