[dropcap]U[/dropcap]nder a cold, wintry drizzle on December 21, people gathered at State House Plaza in Concord, N.H., to remember the lives of 26 homeless people who died in 2011. Homeless Memorial Day vigils took place in seven New Hampshire communities: Manchester, Nashua, Keene, Lebanon, Newport, Laconia and Concord.
Maureen Ryan, Administrator of the Office of Homeless and Housing Services for the State of New Hampshire, read a proclamation from Gov. John Lynch, who urged all citizens “to work together so that all of our people have shelter.”
Participants included members of the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness, volunteers from the three winter shelters now running in the city, and members of Save Our Cold Kids, a Concord High School student group.
The Concord vigil was organized by the American Friends Service Committee’s Maggie Fogarty, who urged those at the vigil to fight for justice. “This vigil is our way of strengthening ourselves,” Fogarty said, “and strengthening each other and reminding us that ending homelessness is our responsibility. We have to fight this fight. Every life we honor tonight was a blessing, a child born utterly innocent, who suffered a terrible loss of security and well-being.”
Fogarty then led a litany with participants in the candlelight vigil:
In the cold and dark of the longest night of the year, we know that thousands of people are alone and homeless.
ALL: We remember and hold them in our hearts and prayers.
We have named the names of those we know who have died. We know there are others whose names we do not know.
ALL: We hold them and their loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.
Let our awareness and caring guide us in working to build a community in which there is adequate food and shelter for us all.
ALL: We will remember and we will do all we can to help our brothers and sisters who need us.