Newtown's residents gathered with candles and hugs. At the town's church, residents stood together, a mass of human grief. Some journalists wiped tears from their cheeks. Many of us have covered many devastating events, natural disasters and appalling violence. But such a callous, extraordinary attack will stir even the steeliest reporter. So many kids.

In some ways the town reminded me of Greymouth in the days after the Pike River Mine explosion. Only smaller. Tighter. And these families have no hope at all. I tried not to stop or dwell too much at any point, to remain busy, knowing I'll probably reflect on Sandy Hook Elementary for many months or years to come. I know the gravity of the massacre will affect me increasingly over the next few days.

I walked in the cold in Newtown, pausing only to stop at a warped bit of plywood propped up against a tree. It was totally dark, no streetlights or twilight or cars. On the plywood was a line in paint.

"God Bless the Families", it said.

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I reckon this is the day things will change. This horror can't be politically usurped.