Noah Pozner, one of the 20 child victims from last month’s Sandy Hook elementary shooting, laid in an open casket for his wake, which conjures memories of Emmett Till, the innocent African-American boy murdered by two white men.
Pozner’s mother, Veronique, told the Jewish Daily Forward that she made the painful decision to to have an open casket for his wake in order to show people the “ugliness” of gun violence.
“We all saw how beautiful he was. He had thick, shiny hair, beautiful long eyelashes that rested on his cheeks. He looked like he was sleeping. But the reality of it was under the cloth he had covering his mouth there was no mouth left. His jaw was blown away,” she said.
The decision to have an open open-casket is a stark comparison to the funeral of Emmett Till.
The 14-year-old Till was kidnapped and brutally murdered in 1955 by two white men after allegedly cat-calling a white woman.
The story attracted national attention when photos of Till’s battered face in his casket were displayed in national publications.
Like Veronique, Mamie Till Mobley, the mother of Emmitt Till, told the press that she “wanted the world to see what they did to [her] baby.”
Photos of Till’s body from the wake helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement, spurring events such as the sit-ins in the late 1960s.
Today marks the anniversary of the sit-ins inspired from Till’s murder.
Pozner’s mother seems shares the same sentiment at Mobley, with her mission for the open-casket to reveal the horrors of gun violence.
“I just want people to know the ugliness of it so we don’t talk about it abstractly, like these little angels just went to heaven. No. They were butchered. They were brutalized. And that is what haunts me at night,” Pozner’s mother said.
Veronique also requested Connecticut governor, Daniel Malloy, to come to Noah’s wake and see his body.
“If there is ever a piece of legislation that comes across his desk, I needed it to be real for him,” she said.
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