The sun dropped behind the Sierra and a light wind rustled the trees overhead as about thirty-five members of the northern Nevada chapter of The Compassionate Friends gathered on the steps of the State Capitol at 4 p.m. Sunday.
The organization addresses the tragedy of losing a child, and all present have been touched somehow by the experience.
"The grief of losing a child is so deep," member Norris Schulz said. "We don't expect to bury our children."
Songs and poems, as well as a note from President and First Lady Hillary Clinton graced the brief and quiet ceremony, which ended in the lighting of candles for children that have died.
Compassionate Friends is an international nonprofit support organization offering friendship and understanding to families that have lost a child of any age, for any reason.
Sunday's event here was a microcosm of a worldwide observance. Always on the second Sunday in December, the candle lighting observes National Children's Memorial Day. Members burned candles here and around the world for one hour beginning at 7 p.m. in their time zone, and the light will circle the globe for a 24-hour period in remembrance. The ceremony on the steps of the Capital Sunday preceded the private vigils that will be conducted at 7 p.m. at home.
The organization was founded in England in 1968 when two families, both of whom had lost children, were united by an Anglican priest. It was thought that through the shared tragedy, the families could help each other through the grieving process, and a good part of the organization's success comes from their ability to reach out to the newly bereaved.
Based in Carson City, the Northern Nevada chapter mails out about 250 newsletters. There are "sister meetings" in Reno, and satellite chapters in Bishop and Hawthorne. Locally the organization meets on the last Tuesday of the month at the Cancer Resource Center. Those interested are invited to call Norris or Cathy Schulz at 883-3132.