‘Remembering America’s Gun Victims’: Charlotte Bacon (Sandy Hook, Connecticut)

‘Remembering America’s Gun Victims’: Charlotte Bacon (Sandy Hook, Connecticut)

Charlotte Helen Bacon had bought a new outfit for Christmas — a pink dress and white boots — that she wanted to wear before her school broke for the 2012 holidays.

At six years old, Charlotte had already developed a knack for the power of persuasion, her uncle, John Hagen, said.

After weeks of resisting, JoAnn Bacon finally relented, allowing her daughter to wear her new clothes to school on December 14 that year. Charlotte had even got her hair done for that morning.

 It would be the last day she would ever dress up for an occasion.

Hours after Charlotte arrived with her new attire at her Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a gunman shot and killed her and 19 other children, as well as six adults there.

“She had been working on my sister for weeks to wear this outfit,” John said, recalling the battle between mother and daughter . “If she wanted to get something, she was going to get it. She had a strong personality.”

Having lived across the country, the Bacons settled several years ago in Sandy Hook, where Joel Bacon worked as a scientist and his wife was a stay-at-home mother.

Charlotte’s uncle recalled one of the last times he saw was when the families had gathered for a reunion at a summer home in upstate Minnesota for the fourth of  July in 2011.

The uncle was on a pontoon with Charlotte. “She was about 4 to 5 years old at the time,” he said. “I watched her go and run off the pontoon and into the water with total confidence. She lived life with gusto. This little girl knew how to live life.”

He said upon learning of the shooting, Joel and JoAnn Bacon went to the firehouse staging area near the school, where they soon met their 9-year-old son, Guy.

“At the fire station, Guy came and no Charlotte. They were there until 4 o’clock that afternoon waiting, probably knowing the end result already.”

Following the death of their daughter, the Bacons set up the Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation.

“As we approach the 10-year mark of Charlotte’s death … I am reflecting on the evolution in my personal life and the evolution of the Charlotte Helen Bacon (CHB) Foundation,” JoAnn Bacon wrote on the foundation’s website. “The evolution is substantial, and Charlotte’s impact is immeasurable.”

She said the origin of the foundation was rooted in tragedy. 

“Joel and I did not aspire to work in the nonprofit world and would never imagine our life turning in this direction. We were thrust into this world because our daughter died, and we needed something good to hold onto. With no background or experience, we took all of our love for our daughter and poured it into the things she cared about. We were a bit all over the place in the beginning: kindness, dogs, and a children’s book. It was messy because our life was messy.”

It took time and patience to fine-tune their purpose as grieving parents and as custodians of the foundation set up to serve society in the memory of their daughter, JoAnn said.  

“As things settled and we found balance, Newtown Kindness evolved into the Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation,” she said. “The transition may have been confusing to some, but it was time for a course correction for those involved. Grief is an evolution and never stagnant, so, logically, a foundation founded in grief and remembrance would evolve too.”

Over the last ten years, supporters to the foundation have generously given in many ways, from volunteering, sharing Charlotte’s story, gifting book copies of Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter, and monetary donations. 

“This, too, is often an act of love.  And these acts of love are why the Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation continues to thrive and stay healthy,” JoAnn wrote.

“What is known is that her love and our love for her will continue to sprinkle down unnoticeably on future generations — a gentle coating of Charlotte’s stardust.”

Adapted by the neverforget.team from The Wall Street Journal’s tribute for Sandy Hook victims and JoAnn Bacon’s tribute on charlottehelenbaconfoundation.org


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