As hundreds gathered to honor her sister and 25 others gunned down at a Connecticut school, Carlee Soto held hands with her other sister and took the stage to ask everyone for a moment of silence.
The moment of silence, for 26 seconds, was in remembrance of the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary six months ago – and a call to action on gun control.
The two sisters of slain teacher Victoria Soto, Carlee and Jillian, spoke before the crowd to remember her sister and others gunned down at the school on Dec. 14.
"This pain is excruciating and unbearable but thanks to people like you, that come out and support us, we are able to get through this," said Carlee Soto.
The event then transitioned to the reading of the names of more than 6,000 people killed by gun violence since the tragedy in Newtown. The reading of names is expected to take 12 hours.
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The gunman in Newtown killed his mother and then the 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a semiautomatic rifle before committing suicide as police arrived.
Among those killed was Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, 6. This weekend, Harry Connick Jr. wrote a song in honor of Ana, who was a big lover of music. The song, “Love Wins,” was released this week and was dedicated to Ana – the proceeds will go to the Ana Grace Fund set up to help the girl's family.
Connick played with the girl's jazz saxophonist father, Jimmy Greene, and sang at her funeral.
Greene is scheduled to receive the Governor's Arts Award at a ceremony Saturday at the International Festival for Arts and Ideas in New Haven.
Greene, an assistant professor at Western Connecticut State University, has released a series of critically acclaimed albums and received numerous honors.
Also Friday in Newtown, Mayors Against Illegal Guns is launching a bus tour that will travel to 25 states over 100 days to build support for legislation to expand background checks for gun buyers. Such legislation failed in the Senate in April.
The mayors group is also holding events in 10 states calling for lawmakers to expand background checks and urging senators who opposed the bill to reconsider. Those events, which include gun violence survivors and gun owners, will be held in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who co-founded the mayors group, this week sent a letter asking donors not to support Democratic senators who opposed the bill to expand background checks.
On the other side of the debate, the National Rifle Association is focusing on Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who co-sponsored the bill to expand background checks, with a TV ad urging viewers to phone Manchin's office and tell him "to honor his commitment to the 2nd Amendment." The NRA plans to spend $100,000 airing the ad in West Virginia markets over the next two weeks.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.