Last night, President Obama met with the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting before speaking at an interfaith service held in the Newton High School auditorium.
“Here in Newtown, 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.” – President Barack Obama
Children and teachers showed courage
Obama shared a handful of the inspiring accounts of children and teachers who displayed courage when faced with danger. “[…]the school’s staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate. Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy — they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances — with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.” Following the list of adults who gave their lives, Obama shared an amusing story of one boy doing his best to encourage a grownup when he said, “I know karate. So it’s okay. I’ll lead the way out.” For a moment, the mood lightened and a smattering of laughter peppered the audience.
First task as a nation
The President went on to say that as a nation, “…we are left with some hard questions,” and that, “This is our first task — caring for our children. 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.”
Hope of heaven
Before the President read the first names of the 20 six and seven-year-old children who died in the shooting, he quoted a Bible verse found in Matthew that offers the hope of heaven:
“‘Let the little children come to me,’ Jesus said, ‘and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 19:14)
Audible weeping could be heard as the President read through the names of the children. He went on to promise the audience that he would use whatever power his 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.”