Community memorial for Emilie Parker

Posted at 10:59 PM, Dec 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-21 00:59:37-05

OGDEN -- This community came together to mourn the death of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, killed in last week's schoolhouse shooting in Newtown, Conn.

About 1,000 people filled the commons area at Ben Lomond High School, where Emilie's father thanked the entire community for bolstering them in their grief.

"It sucks. There's no reason for us to be here tonight. I'm so thankful for everybody that's here..." Robbie Parker told the crowd, his voice choking with tears.

"We love you, Robbie!" a man shouted from the crowd.

The pain of his loss filled the room, as family members shared with the crowd stories of Emilie, a girl with an energy and excitement for life. Many wiped away tears during a slideshow of the blond-haired girl with a beaming smile.

"We're some of the luckiest people in the world to have her in our lives," Emilie's grandmother, Karen Parker, told the crowd.

Emilie was one of 20 child victims of last week's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Her family, originally from Utah, had moved to Connecticut within the past year. Robbie Parker told the crowd the attention the shooting has received made him feel at times "we're mourning inside of a glass house."

But he told the crowd he did not feel people were prying because their intentions were pure to share their burden. He said his family was deeply touched by the thousands of pink ribbons tied all over Ogden.

"We understand that you're there with us and your sorrow is real and deep," Parker said.

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell told the Parkers he "stood in awe at your strength," and said the community wanted to show its support.

"This community has shown a great propensity to not be defined by tragedy," Caldwell said, referring to Emilie's death and the shooting of six police officers earlier this year.

After the community memorial service, Robbie Parker and other mourners walked out onto the football field and released lanterns into the air -- all were in memory of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

He cried as he read his daughter's name aloud and then let the lantern go into the frigid night sky.