ATLANTA - A Georgia mayor is urging churches and places of worship across the state to ring their bells 26 times at 9:30 a.m. Friday, in remembrance of the 20 children and six adults gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland said Wednesday that the idea appears to be gaining interest across Georgia, partly because the Georgia Municipal Association sent an email to its members urging them to consider it.
The mayor's assistant, Leslie Balog, suggested the idea after recalling how church bells in Henry County rang shortly after a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, Copeland said.
After Balog suggested the idea, the mayor called several community leaders in town.
"Nobody hesitated," Copeland said. "All of us here grieve."
"The sentiment is so strong for us to move forward with this," he added.
Workers also hope to ring the clock tower of the 1899 Henry County Courthouse on the town square in McDonough, Copeland said.
In Athens, students will ring the University of Georgia Chapel bell 26 times at 9:30 a.m. Friday in memory of the lost lives, the university announced Wednesday.
In the northwest Georgia city of Rome, Mayor Evie McNiece is encouraging churches there to ring their bells. In metro Atlanta, Lilburn officials made a similar request.
Copeland expects that other Georgia communities will participate, especially since the state's municipal association helped spread the word.
"Wejust made them aware of what Mayor Copeland was doing and passed along his request that every city consider taking a similar action,'' said Bill Thornton, deputy executive director of the Georgia Municipal Association.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has proclaimed Friday a day of mourning. He's asking churches and places of worship in Connecticut to ring bells 26 times at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Some churches outside Connecticut and Georgia have also announced plans to ring their bells Friday morning.
In Port Huron, Mich., Grace Episcopal Church will ring its bells 26 times Friday morning, church Sexton Larry McNamara told the Times-Herald in Port Huron.