Dozens of Long Islanders gathered for an emotional candlelight vigil Wednesday to honor “hometown hero” Scott J. Beigel, a Dix Hills-raised teacher who died protecting his students during last month’s Florida school shooting massacre.
Beigel’s mother and local officials spoke about his life and legacy in Huntington Town Hall on the one-month anniversary of the Feb. 14 rampage, which left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“You may have died senselessly, but as I stand here today I can honestly say, not in vain,” his mother, Linda Beigel Schulman, said, at times addressing a photo of Beigel behind her. “In your honor I promise, I promise, I will not stop until no child ever has to fear going to school.”
The vigil, which left even people who did not know Beigel wiping away tears, was held hours after some Long Island students walked out of class to protest gun violence.
Beigel Schulman said she wanted several national gun control changes, including banning assault weapons and increasing the minimum age for purchasing firearms to 21. She also criticized President Donald Trump’s plan to create a school safety commission, saying action is needed now.
Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci announced that the Dix Hills street where Beigel grew up, Hart Place, will be renamed Scott J. Beigel Way.
“We know that while Scott is no longer with us, there will always be a place for him in our hearts and at Scott Beigel way,” Lupinacci said after repeatedly calling Beigel a “hometown hero.”
Beigel’s family also was presented with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol. About 300 participants wore blue bracelets saying “Forever in our hearts Scott J. Beigel.” They bowed their heads in a moment of silence as candles illuminated the town board meeting room. A high school choir sang, dressed in black.
Beigel’s sister, Melissa Zech, and father, Michael Schulman, said the outpouring of love at the vigil was “amazing” and admitted it may take some time before the street sign with Beigel’s name would make them smile.
“We’re grateful that everybody’s now realizing how amazing Scott was,” Zech said. “We’re so grateful his legacy is going to live on.”