NEWTOWN, Conn. -- A steady rain poured as Newtown held a funeral for little Jack Pinto, a 6-year-old boy buried in his idol's jersey as this small town Monday began its farewell to victims of an unspeakable act that shook the nation.
Newtown Town Hall's bell tower struck 1 p.m. as hundreds filed into the community's only funeral home, near the center of town, to pay their respects. His grieving family includes grandparents Alfred and Laurine Volkmann and aunt Karen Volkmann, all of Shoreham.
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The services marked the beginning of the process of laying to rest the 20 children and six adults who were killed Friday morning when Adam Lanza, 20, forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and began shooting.
Saba Quraishi, a mourner who attended Jack's wake, said the services can allow the town to grieve and heal. "We go from crying to sending out love," she said. "We're going to work very hard to live in community and build bridges."
Also buried on Monday in Fairfield County was Noah Pozner, 6, after a service at the Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home. He was buried at B'nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe, which borders Newtown. Gov. Dannel Malloy attended the service and later talked of the difficulty of trying to comfort families: "You try to find some words that you hope will be adequate, knowing that they will be inadequate, and you see little coffins and your heart has to ache.
"So, you tell them that you grieve for their loss, you give them a hug and you tell them their community, their state and their nation and dare I say the whole world stands with them, and you hope that makes some difference," Malloy said.
At least four more wakes and funerals are scheduled for Tuesday, said Laura Soll, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association. At least 11 funerals of the victims are to be held at the Honan funeral home in Newtown, which normally handles about 110 funerals annually, she said.
A rabbi presided at Noah's service, and in keeping with Jewish tradition, the boy was laid to rest in a simple brown wooden coffin adorned with a Star of David, The Associated Press reported.
"If Noah had not been taken from us, he would have become a great man. He would been a wonderful husband and a loving father," Noah's uncle Alexis Haller told mourners, according to AP. Both services were closed to the news media.
Haller described a smart, funny and mischievous child who loved animals and Mario Brothers video games. "It is unspeakably tragic that none of us can bring Noah back," Haller said. "We would go to the ends of the earth to do so, but none of us can. What we can do is carry Noah within us, always."
At Jack's funeral, loud wailing from family members and friends competed with speakers sharing stories about the boy's plucky nature and love of sports. Mourners who could not fit into the white, two-story funeral home paid their respects outside on the lawn.
Jack wore a white jersey, emblazoned with the number 80 of the New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. Touched by fans who told him of Jack's fondness for him, Cruz wrote "Jack Pinto" and "This one is for u!" on his gloves during Sunday's game. He also wore cleats with handwritten messages of "Jack Pinto, My Hero," and, "R.I.P. Jack Pinto."
He also told reporters that he had called the family to tell them to "stay strong and to understand that God has a plan."
The funeral procession snaked a mile long through rain and fog that has beset Newtown since the shooting. Police kept a heavy presence around the funeral home and held a blocks-long line of media at bay across the street.
According to his death notice in the Newtown Bee, Jack Armistead Pinto was born in Danbury, the son of Dean and Tricia Pinto and brother to Benjamin Pinto, 11. The Volkmanns are his maternal grandparents.
He loved participating in flag football, baseball, basketball, wrestling and skiing and was "an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy, appreciated by all who knew him for his lively and giving spirit and steely determination."
The notice said Jack was "a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years." It also listed his good friend JJ Haddick as one of his survivors.
Cliff Husted, of Newtown, standing outside the funeral home, said he came because he was an acquaintance of the school's principal, Dawn Hochsprung, another victim. He said he wants to attend every victim's funeral.
Husted said he hopes the funerals focus on the victims' lives and not their deaths. "I'm a firm believer in celebrating life rather than mourning it," he said.
Also attending was Kansas City resident David Callen, who said people from around the country were coming to offer support. He said he and friends came to bring candy for the town's children.
"There are gestures like this from around the country," Callen said. "We feel for them."