President Obama turned to scripture and emotional pleas in an effort to comfort the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
‘You are not alone in your grief. Our world too has been torn apart,’ President Obama said.
‘All across this land our world too has been torn apart. All across this land we wept with you and pulled our children tight. Newtown, you are not alone.’
In one of the most religious speeches of his presidency, Mr Obama talked about how the ultimate goal for a society is to protect their children.
‘We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could have been any town in America.
‘All across this land of ours, we have wept with you. We’ve pulled our children tight, and you must know whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide it.’
As expected, he made several references to the prospective- and likely- legal battles that will come as politicians fight for tougher restrictions on guns in the wake of the shooting. That said, he was clear to avoid specific plans, but took aim at the arguments made by activists who point to the Second Amendment’s right to bare arms as a reason to keep guns accessible.
‘Are we prepared to say that such violence visited upon our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?’ he said.
A particularly poignant moment came in the speech when Mr Obama read the first names of all 20 children who died in the shooting.
‘We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage?’ he said, referring to the four other mass shootings that have taken place since Mr Obama was elected.
In his introduction, Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy said that Mr Obama told him privately that Friday was the most difficult day of his term in office.
The service started nearly an hour late because the President was delayed by spending more time than expected meeting with the families of the victims from Friday’s shooting.
One of those visits was with Cristina Hassinger, the grown daughter of school principal Dawn Hochsprung who died trying to prevent the shooter from entering the building.
Ms Hassinger tweeted a picture of the President holding her own young daughter with the poignant caption: ‘My mom would be SO proud to see President Obama holding her granddaughter. But not as proud as I am of her’.
Once the family visits were finished, the President entered into the packed auditorium where decorations were kept very sparse. Along with the American and Connecticut flags on stage, a table in front of the podium was filled with candles to memorialize the victims, and a pianist played solemn songs on a grand piano.
Several families whose children were at Sandy Hook Elementary school during the shooting were denied access to the auditorium where President Barack Obama spoke tonight because organizers allowed hundreds of people from outside the community in first.
‘We’re very disappointed,’ said one mother who was forced to watch the president on a video screen in the gym.
Hans Barth, who had two children at the school on the day of the horrific shooting, said he brought his son and daughter to the memorial service with the president hoping that it would help them confront the horror they experienced on the day of the shooting.
‘They’re in shock right now,’ he said.
A Newtown High School teacher who was helping seat people inside the gym said the organizers were aware that several of the Sandy Hook families had been left out, but, she said organizers had already managed to find seats in the auditorium for 40 additional families from the elementary school.
Source: Daily Mail