ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A moment of silence was held Tuesday morning in a first-grade classroom at Grove Park Elementary School in honor of Somer Thompson Day in Clay County.
County commissioners proclaimed Tuesday to be named after the girl who was kidnapped while walking home from the Orange Park school and killed in October 2009. Tuesday would have been Somer's ninth birthday.
Commissioners asked everyone in the county to wear purple, Somer's favorite color, or do something to remember the girl whose death touched the entire community.
The principal and staff at Somer's school released nine purple balloons in a garden dedicated to Somer. The nine balloons signify the age she would have been.
Purple flowers and a plaque filled the garden in Somer's memory. Principal Lynda Braxton said she hopes that somehow something better can come out of Somer's tragedy.
"As we love, we change the world," Braxton said. "School is about educating and loving. We are attempting to change the world for the better."
It's a world Somer's mom, Diena Thompson, has pledged to make safer for children. She said every day is a struggle without her little girl.
"Today is a bittersweet day," said Thompson, who brought cupcakes to the school for her son's birthday. "She's a twin, so I have one to celebrate that he's (Somer's brother) still here, one in heaven. And it means a lot to have the support of the schools."
The school's principal spoke and read a poem to honor Somer.
"For everybody to take just a few seconds out of their life to remember a little girl that was so special and didn't deserve to go so soon," Thompson said of what she wanted out of this day dedicated to her daughter.