On the eve of the seventh anniversary of the deadly Sandy Hook school shooting, one grieving father and school safety advocate has memorialized his slain son with a message filled with memories and a plea for action in the fight against gun violence. 

Mark Barden is facing yet another Christmas without his son Daniel, who was 7 when a gunman opened fire on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children and six educators were killed in the massacre, including Daniel.

In a message first published in Katie Couric’s Wake-Up Call newsletter, Barden writes of still-fresh grief, especially near Christmas: “The holidays have never been the same. I remember he used to run out onto the driveway, sometimes barefoot on the cold pavement, to give his cousins a big hug when they would arrive for the celebration. He loved his family more than anything.”

Read the full letter on medium.com

Barden says he honors his son by fighting against gun violence — a goal of the school safety advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise, which Barden co-founded.

An especially important part of that mission: Educating parents, students and teachers about the warning signs of someone who may turn to violence.

“Learn the warning signs of potential violence, like being socially isolated, having a significant personality change, extreme prolonged sadness or depression, or patterns of aggressive behavior,” Barden writes, linking to more information on his organization’s website.

Sandy Hook Promise has made national headlines for its fight against gun violence, including releasing a gut-wrenching ad this year depicting kids dealing with the threat of gun violence in everyday life.

Contributing: Olivia Sanchez, USA TODAY

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