April 22, 2018
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Sandy Hook memorial to travel from Ellsworth to Newtown

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

SULLIVAN, Maine — A dream that spawned from a nightmare has finally come true for Richard Gray.

Gray, a Gouldsboro native, but now resides in Florida, said he was watching the tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., on the television news last December.

“It all started on that horrible day,” Gray said on Sunday. “I didn’t feel so hot [while watching the news], so I went to lay down. I had this real vivid dream. I was there staring at this stone.”

He added that he felt a personal connection because his daughter, Jayden, was the same age as many of those killed in Newtown.

Gray said he had between six or eight dreams that helped put together an image of what would become the Rock of Angels, a memorial dedicated to the memories of those who died on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Rock of Angels was unveiled to the public for the first time during the Sullivan Daze parade on Saturday.

“I’ve probably told my story 300 times [Saturday],” he said.

The monument weighs 22,000 pounds, is 10 feet long and eight feet across. It currently resides in Ellsworth before it will make its trip to Connecticut next week.

Concrete base is mixed with mussel shells and features 26 stainless steel angels. The top is made of granite taken from Sullivan and has the names of the teachers and children killed at the school engraved in the stone. It also has LED lights and fiber optics to make it glow at night.

“Every one of them who heard the story of how the stone got its name left crying. It was so amazing,” Gray said.

“Appreciative. Humbling. Those are the words [that represent how people were feeling on Saturday],” said Adam Meyer. “It’s a humbling piece to look at for what it represents.”

Meyer said he spent upwards of 800 hours building, grinding and perfecting the monument’s 12,000 pound “shell-crete” base in his Cutler warehouse.

Meyer was one of many people who donated their time, money, equipment and expertise to building the memorial, Gray said. There were too many to name them all.

Monument to go on tour

The Rock of Angel’s current home in the Ellsworth Department of Transportation garage is far from its destination. On Saturday, Aug. 10, the memorial will make an eight city stop on its way to Newtown, Conn.

The monument will stop at selected fire stations for an hour each.

It will be at the Ellsworth Fire Department from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. before it heads to Bangor’s Main Street fire house at 9:45 a.m. It will make stops at fire stations in Augusta, Freeport, Portland, Old Orchard Beach and Biddeford before making its final stop of the day in Portsmouth, N.H.

It will then start the next day in Boston at 8 a.m. then head to Providence, R.I. and Hartford, Conn. It will stay in Bethlehem, Conn. on Aug. 12 and then travel to Newtown, Conn., on the Aug. 13.

Pittsfield-based Cianbro donated a truck, trailer, driver and some fuel to transport the stone memorial, saving organizers nearly $5,200.

“The people in this state have stepped up to make this a reality is awesome,” Gray said. “This world isn’t so bad. These people didn’t have to step up or donate their time. To see the finished monument sitting there yesterday — several times I started welting up.”

To his dream come to life and to be appreciated by so many has been overwhelming, said Gray.

“I was telling people all day [Saturday], it’s an emotion and a feeling you can’t really explain,” he said. “To see and touch this stone, it will give you goosebumps and a feeling you’ve never had.”

Gray encouraged those interested in following the progress of the memorial to visit its Facebook page.

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