On the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, our hearts go out to all those whose lives were unalterably changed on Dec. 14, 2012.

One year after that fateful day, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and friends of the victims, to the emergency personnel who responded to the unspeakable horrors wrought by a heavily armed gunman, to the Sandy Hook students and educators who survived the massacre, and to the entire Newtown community.

The assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School was the most horrific mass shooting in American history, as 20 beautiful, innocent first-graders and six brave educators were mowed down by a deranged 20-year-old, Adam Lanza.

No one will ever be the same -- not the families, not the first responders, not the other members of school community, not the other residents of Newtown -- after the lives of 26 wonderful human beings were so suddenly and so violently ended.

Still, the Newtown community has responded to the unimaginable tragedy of 12-14-12 with admirable strength, resolve, dignity and mutual support.

And Newtown residents will mark the anniversary in their own way -- privately, reflectively, in sad but loving remembrance of those who have been lost.

First Selectman Pat Llodra, speaking on behalf of the community, has made it clear that Newtown plans no public events for the anniversary and has asked residents, and especially the families of the victims, be treated with sensitivity and respect as they remember their loved ones.

A number of family members held a press conference Monday to express their thanks to the world for its support following the mass shooting and to offer a positive message in anticipation of the approaching anniversary.

"In the midst of our grief, we have come to realize that we want our loved ones to be remembered for the lives they lived and how they touched our hearts," Krista Rekos, mother of Jessica, who died on Dec. 14, read from a statement.

JoAnn Bacon, whose daughter, Charlotte, was one of the victims, issued a request of those who have wondered how they can help.

"We ask that you consider performing an act of kindness or volunteering with a charitable organization in your local community," she said.

We hope that area residents -- be they from Newtown, from Greater New Milford or beyond -- will do as requested and reach out and help those around them.

There is no changing what happened in Sandy Hook on that terrible Friday morning last December.

But if all of us perform acts of kindness -- on Dec. 14, 2013, and every day thereafter -- we will be doing much honor to the memories of those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School.