Families of the victims massacred by a madman more than four years ago in a Connecticut grammar school still mourn the loss of their loved ones, but some are finding ways to keep their memories alive in legacy foundations they’ve created in their names. Scott Pelley returns to Newtown to report on the human impact of the school shooting that took the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators and shocked the nation in December 2012. Pelley’s report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, April 16 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
The following is a script of an excerpt from “Return to Newtown.”
A parent who has lost a child has one fear left—the end of remembering. And so many of the families have created projects that introduce their child to new people. Ben Wheeler now lives in the work of Ben’s Lighthouse, his mother, Francine, creates service projects for Newtown kids.
Francine Wheeler: What a wonderful way to honor him and continue to be his parents.
Scott Pelley: Continue to be his parents?
“The worst thing you can do to a grieving parent is not to mention the child. Then you’re not acknowledging his existence.” Francine Wheeler, Ben’s mom
Francine Wheeler: Yeah. I can’t live the rest of my life not talking about him. I mean, imagine you having a six-year-old, and then you don’t anymore. Are you going to stop talking about them? The worst thing you can do to a grieving parent is not to mention the child. Then you’re not acknowledging his existence. And so when people do acknowledge it, I’m so appreciative. I say, “Oh, thank you for--” and even if I’m crying, they’re like, “I’m sorry I made you cry.” I’m like, “No, you didn’t make me cry. You brought him back.”
David Wheeler: It’s like having him back for a minute.
Francine Wheeler: Yeah…
The Wheelers wanted another child, a sibling for their oldest. And almost two years after Ben was killed, Matthew Bennett Wheeler was born.
David Wheeler: You try to make the world into the place you want it to be and many times the only area you have any control over is the square footage of your own house. And so you do what you can.