President Obama traveled to Newtown, Conn., on Sunday to offer support and solace to the grieving town and families of those who died in Friday’s school massacre. 20 children and six of their educators were brutally murdered in a hail of bullets, shot by diabolical gunman Adam Lanza.
Speaking at the Sandy Hook vigil, the president opened his remarks by alludingto the Bible. “Scripture tells us do not lose heart—though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what’s seen but what is unseen," the president continued, "since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal. We know that if the earthly tents we live in is destroyed we have a building from God—an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
Obama solemnly continued on why they were gathered: to remember the “20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults.” He said this loss could have happened at any school in any town in America “filled with decent people."
"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," the president continued as he attempted to offer solace to the hurting residents gathered, "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."
After words of comfort, Obama vowed to work on ending the senseless, unspeakable gun violence plaguing the nation. “We’re not doing enough and this has to change,” he said.
"We can't tolerate this anymore," he said. "These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and it is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this."
Obama also added, "In the coming weeks, I'll 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 to prevent more tragedies like this," he said. "Because what choice do we have?" (Click on the video above to listen entire speech).
This speech was a more direct call for change in America’s gun culture than any other he had given on the problem lately. Obama had spoken after several mass murders, offering solace to families but with no real change in gun control coming after his words.
He had to speak in the wake of the Tucson, Ariz,. tragedy where six were killed, including 9-year-old Christina Talyor-Green—and 13 injured, along with Rep. Gabby Giffords, whose serious head injuries force her to resign from the House.
He also had to make another painful journey to Aurora, Colo., to comfort grieving families there after the Batman movie premiere massacre, where 12 died and 59 were injured.. First lady Michelle had to visit the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin to help comfort those grieving families after a gunman opened fire, killing seven and injuring four.
Will this latest devastation at Newtown finally catapult change in our gun laws, mental health, social services and education? Will our politicians stand up to the powerful gun lobbyist and the NRA?
More importantly, will Obama expend the political energy needed to take on the Second Amendment juggernaut? And what about school safety? I have heard numerous so-called experts giving myriad opinions of how our schools should operate from now on. Listening to some of the rapid advice given on almost every television, schools should look like fortresses and feel like prison. But is that the answer? An extremely restrictive environment will certainly hamper young children’s development and learning.
As we wait to see what comes out of this unspeakable tragedy, what about our children? How do we speak to them about what happened to those young ones at Sandy Hook Elementary school?
Early childhood education should be a time of exploration, unfettered and uninhibited learning, growing, playing for that is the time when children are their most inquisitive--curious to absorb the world around them. I have worked with children of that age group, and for me, it is the most rewarding time.
Now kids are going to be afraid to return to school, especially in Sandy Hook, and they are going to need enormous resources to help them cope and recover.
This is not how we envision America or any other part of the globe. Our children are our most precious resource and we owe it to them to make the world a safer place for them to stay alive and thrive.