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Newtown, one year later — through the TV lens

An American flag flies at half-staff on Main

An American flag flies at half-staff on Main Street in Newtown, Conn., a day after the Sandy Hook school shooting. (Dec. 15, 2012) Credit: AP

No one needs to be reminded what happened exactly one year ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School; certainly no one in Newtown, Conn., where no memorials are planned Saturday, and no TV cameras are welcome. As the snow piles up — 7 to 12 inches expected to cover this town of nearly 30,000 by Sunday morning — TV news will have no familiar easy hooks for anniversary stories; no ceremonies, no reflections, no vigils. As the snow comes down, people aren't standing on corners waiting for TV crews to pull up, waiting for that one easy and obvious question: "How does it feel one year later?"

There's lots of good reasons for TV to ignore Newtown for on-site anniversary stories — the networks, with the exception of CBS, say they will stay away out of respect for the community and the victims' families. But, I would submit, there may be one or two compelling reasons not to entirely stay away, either.

Foremost, there's this one: The Sandy Hook tragedy was a national one — and, in the words of Bob Schieffer just about a year ago, the worst day in the United States since 9/11. Many millions mourned that day, still do — trying to close the gap of comprehension with what happened, and what they think they know about the meaning of life. Unable to do so, maybe some of them waited for this day to see whether any healing has taken place, or if comprehension has advanced to any degree, or the gap closed... As usual, many will turn to TV for answers, and find none.

TV, we should have realized long ago, is not the place for answers, but it is the place on occasion for national communion — however briefly — as everyone attempts to share in something that touches each of them in ways only they can define. It's the national hearth theory of television, but today — just to continue the metaphor — that hearth will be cold.

But something very terrible, utterly incomprehensible, did happen exactly one year ago, and because even terrible anniversaries need to be honored in some way, here's a brief collection of clips that you may or may not care to watch. But they are a visceral reminder of how TV tried to deal with some of this a year ago, with one or two more current clips. Most of these just happen to come from CBS News (which did a particularly fine job), but maybe that's just because they were the easiest to find. All of the networks grappled to the best of their ability with the horror and aftermath.

I close this gallery with a piece Steve Hartman (of "On the Road" fame) did about an office building  - and go to this link for that one -. in nearby Hamden, Conn., that was stuffed to the ceiling ... with snowflakes. A modest little call had gone out from the state's PTA to get kids to make snowflakes as part of their own modest little memorial. That call went viral, and before long, many millions of snowflakes from around the country and Canada descended on this building.

On this somber and snowy day, it's a good reminder of just how national in scope this tragedy was, and remains.

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