NEWTOWN, Connecticut -- Flags are flying at half-staff Thursday in Connecticut, marking five years since the tragic day of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Twenty students and six educators were gunned down at the Newtown school in 2012. The gunman, Adam Lanza, then took his own life.
PHOTOS: Remembering the Newtown shooting victims
Governor Dan Malloy directed all flags to be lowered in their honor starting from sunrise to sunset.
Schools are open in Newtown Thursday, and while families and local congregations hold private remembrances, there will be no public events.
Out of the senseless tragedy, many have sought ways to find meaning in advocacy.
Many relatives of the victims have dedicated themselves to charity, activism and other efforts to channel their grief and, in many cases, to help prevent violence.
"You have two choices," said Rebecca Kowalski, whose 7-year-old son, Chase, died in Newtown. "I could be in the bottom of a bottle; I could not get out of my bed. Or, I could do what's making us heal a little bit every day."
Some organizations, like the Kowalski's youth triathlon program, honor the passions of the children who were killed on December 14, 2012.
Others have jumped into the policy fray to lobby for gun control or improved mental health care. In some cases, they have traveled the country, and even the world, as recognized experts in their fields, such as Jeremy Richman, a scientist whose Avielle Foundation for the study of brain health is named for his slain daughter.
The Sandy Hook families have created a website to share each of their stories and information about the various projects they have started in memory of their family members.
Click here for more stories and videos about the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.