Obama Offers Prayers of Nation to Newtown Victims

President vows to use the power of his office to keep the nation's children safe.

Posted: 12/17/2012 07:27 AM EST
Barack Obama, Newtown

President Obama paused during a speech at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday. (Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sunday in Newtown, Connecticut, was one like no other. As the town prepared to bury their dead, neighbors came together to grieve and mourn those they lost in the school shooting on Friday that ultimately left 28 dead — including 20 children under the age of 8. President Obama was also in Newtown Sunday evening to honor the dead and help begin the healing process.

As many continue to ask what led 20-year-old Adam Lanza to kill his mother, drive to Sandy Hook Elementary and open fire on so many innocents, few answers are forthcoming.

Without specifically mentioning the debate over gun control and offering few specifics, the president vowed to use "whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine."

The president spoke in front of a table that was set with 26 glass-covered candles, one for each of the victims.

After opening his remarks at the interfaith vigil with scripture, the president said, "I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone in your grief; that our world, too, has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we've pulled our children tight. And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown — you are not alone."

This is the fourth mass shooting that has taken place since Obama has been president. During the summer he made a similar visit to Aurora, Colorado, after a dozen people were killed in a movie theater attack.

Lanza had enough of an arsenal to kill just about every student in the school if given enough time, said the police. He shot himself in the head as he heard police drawing near, the Associated Press said. Lanza's mother was dead in her bed, shot four times in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.

Inside the room where the president spoke there were tears and hugs and also some smiles. One man told the Associated Press that the vigil was less mournful, more familial.

The president closed out his address by reading out the names of the 20 children who were killed.

"Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison.

"God has called them all home," he said. "For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

"May God bless and keep those we've lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America."


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