NEWTOWN -- The wind whipped and the rain pelted down but the pure clear sound of tolling bells echoed through the town Friday morning as they did around the country.
The country held a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. Friday and church bells rang 26 times to honor the memory of the 20 students and six staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School who were killed in the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history.
On Main Street, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, First Selectman Pat Llodra and School Superintendent Janet Robinson stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the steps of Edmond Town Hall as Trinity Episcopal Church bell tolled slowly. It rang 26 times with a short pause between each ring.
About 30 residents also stood in the driving wind and rain or just inside the building.
"There is nothing more to say," resident Lisa Callaghan said while standing in the rain. "Now, we need to do better for our children."
At the Sandy Hook firehouse, where surviving students were brought last Friday to find their parents, the firefighters wrapped their arms around each other and wept as they observed a moment of silence for the victims.
Some community members and people from other towns also came to the memorial -- more than two dozen Christmas Trees surrounded with stuffed animals, flowers and candles -- to pay their respects.
Others tried desperately to keep the Christmas trees standing as wind and rain whipped through the area.
As the moment came at 9:30 Friday -- the time a week ago when Adam Lanza opened fire in the school -- all that could be heard was sound of rain as those attending the makeshift memorial held each other for comfort and warmth.
George Lockwood Jr., an engineer with the fire department, said it's been particularly hard on the members, especially those who responded one week ago to the shooting that took so many lives.
"I think the memorial service helped, but it's been really hard," Lockwood said. "But we are all sticking together."
Capt. John Jeltema said the department is one big family.
"There isn't much to say," he said. "We just want to thank everyone, the EMS, police and fire departments, and frankly everyone in the nation who have been so supportive."
On Main Street in front of the old town hall, Tricia Harrity said ringing the bells was a good idea. She had brought her daughter Juliet Grover, a 13-year-old 8th grader at St. Rose of Lima School here.
"Each life that was taken is worth more than one bell but that is all we have left,'' she said. "She wanted to come with me. It's hard for the kids to understand, even at 13."
Her son stayed home to watch the event on television.
During the shooting last week, the students at St. Rose of Lima School were in the church for mass, which they attend each Friday, she said, and then they stayed to pray the rosary together.
"This is such a nice town, you know," Harrity said with a hitch in her voice. "I just hope there is a change."
Another resident stood by herself holding an umbrella and wearing tall black boots against the storm.
"I'm just paying my respects," said the woman who declined to give her name. "I wanted to be here. I'm part of this sad memory that happened a week ago in town."
The officials in turn bowed their heads, or looked straight out into a bank of news cameras facing them.
U. S. Sen.-elect Chris Murphy, D-Conn. stood just behind Wyman before the group turned and went back into the hall before dispersing.
"We should make sure the bells never leave our head. We need to hear them when we wake up, for as long as it takes to honor these kids memories," Murphy said.
"It's a beautiful moment," he said, "but we want to make sure that beyond these memorials, that we do what we have to do to live up to the beautiful memories of these people who died."
At St. Mary's Church in Bethel, the bells rang during morning mass.
The church on Dodgingtown road was filled with the students from St. Mary's School next door who were attending mass before they left for their Christmas vacation.
St. Mary School principal Sr. Anne McCarthy said the church was full and the bells rang towards the end of the mass.
"It was beautiful," she said simply.