When speaking of those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut this past Friday (Dec. 14), President Obama called them “beautiful children” and “remarkable adults.” 26 lost their lives inside the school; most of them children aged 6 and 7. The president came to Newtown to meet with the families of the victims and speak at the interfaith vigil held at the town’s local high school on Sunday night.
While he was remorseful about the “unconscionable evil” that transpired, President Obama noted that this was the fourth time in his presidency he had visited and grieved with families of a mass shooting.
“We can’t tolerate this anymore,” Obama said, speaking after clergy and Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy. “These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change.”
Earlier in his speech, Obama rationalized that keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something that we can only do together with the help of friends, neighbours, community and a nation.
“This is our first task: caring for our children,” he said. “It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how as a society we will be judged.”
“And, by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we are doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there letting them know that they are loved and teaching them to love in return? Can we say we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?”
After a brief pause, Obama picked up again. “I’ve been reflecting on this the past few days,” the president said, “and if we are honest with ourselves, the answer is “no.”
Obama ended his 18-minute speech by reading off the names of each of the 20 children that were killed in the massacre and asked that God bless them “with His holy comfort.” [NBC]