President Obama at Newtown Memorial Service

Published On : 12/17/2012 6:50 AM
By : Bill Chappell
From : npr
Categories : Nation
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President Obama grieved with the community of Newtown, Conn., Sunday night, telling residents at a memorial service that he was there to assure those who lost loved ones in Friday's brutal attack "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."

In the two days since Friday's attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, residents of Newtown have come together to hold prayer vigils and create impromptu memorials. In the hours before Sunday's interfaith service at Newtown High School, the president met with people who lost family members in the attack.

President Obama grieved with the community of Newtown, Conn., Sunday night, telling residents at a memorial service that he was there to assure those who lost loved ones in Friday's brutal attack "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."

In the two days since Friday's attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, residents of Newtown have come together to hold prayer vigils and create impromptu memorials. In the hours before Sunday's interfaith service at Newtown High School, the president met with people who lost family members in the attack.

Those meetings were off the record, out of view of the media. Later, in a speech that was carried by seemingly every major U.S. news outlet, President Obama told the large crowd that gathered on a cold Sunday night, "I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation."
 
And he did so, comforting those in the auditorium with a speech that clearly came from the father of two young girls. Several pauses within the address seemed to have been made to allow the president to gather himself before continuing. And he passionately described the sense of hope and duty parents feel for their children — as well as the sense of how powerless parents are to protect their children from all the world's dangers.

But the president's speech was not solely focused on commiseration. He also showed his frustration with what he called repeated scenes of mass shootings that have devastated communities before Newtown. He cited the Tucson, Ariz., attack at an event featuring Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, as well as this past summer's Aurora, Colo., attack at a crowded movie theater.

"Surely we can do better than this," Obama said, in a portion of his speech that ended with a promise to discuss ways to take better care of children in particular, and communities in general, in the coming weeks.

"We can't accept events like this as routine," the president said. He later added, "Are we prepared to say that such violence visited upon our children, year after year after year, is somehow the price of our freedom?"

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