UPPER MONTCLAIR, NJ — Hundreds of people of all ages attended the March for Our Lives in Upper Montclair on Saturday evening. This was part of the coordinated effort across the state of New Jersey and the nation.
Student activists of all ages took to the podium at St. James Episcopal Church to call for stricter gun laws.
On the lawn of the church, were t-shirts representing students and staff who have lost their lives to gun violence.
Towards the end of the program, Rev. Melissa Hall of St. James, said, "...We invite you to call out the 43 names on the t-shirts to remember those who have lost their lives and the bell will toll 43 times as a beacon of peace." She added that this was done in remembrance of the children of Parkland and Sandy Hook and also for the educators who lost their lives.
"We never expected this turnout." She was pleased with seeing so many people in attendance, that exceeded their expectations.
Rev. Hall added, "We bought 200 candles and thought we bought too many." She then asked the crowd to take a candle or light their phone as a symbol of light. She stated that collectively they will symbolically hold up the light up to the darkness.
The March for Our Lives movement began as a national student-led effort to memorialize the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month and to push for stronger gun laws in America.
Speakers included Montclair High School students and even Congressman Bill Pascrell.
In between speakers the crowd sang along accompanied by acoustic guitar to "What About Us" and "This Little Light of Mine."
Closing the ceremony, the church bell tolled 43 times in remembrance of the lives lost and a veil was flown from the top of the church bell tower to the ground below as a reminder. Rev. Hall said, "Let this be a reminder to all those that are here today and all that walk by the church that this is not something we walk away from..."
She added, "Let this be a reminder as you walk past the church each day that we are called to bring light and justice back into the world."