President Obama Speaks at Moving Newtown Vigil: 'We Have Wept With You'

The Hollywood Reporter
President Obama Speaks at Moving Newtown Vigil: 'We Have Wept With You'

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President Obama Speaks at Moving Newtown Vigil: 'We Have Wept With You'

An emotional President Barack Obama addressed the Newtown, Conn. community and the nation Sunday evening at the town's inter-faith vigil, wiping away tears several times during his remarks -- which was broadcast live on major broadcast networks, as well as several cable news channels.

"I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow nor can they heal your wounded hearts," the president began. "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 and all across this land of ours, we have wept with you.."

Obama continued: "Newtown, you are not alone. These difficult days have unfolded, you've also inspired us with stories of strength, resolve and sacrifice."

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"As a community, you've inspired us Newtown in the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil," Obama said. "This is how Newtown will be remembered and with time and God's grace, that love will see you through."

The president took time to look at the bigger picture, promising that he will do everything in his power to make sure a tragedy such as this will not happen again. "We bear a responsibility for every child because we're counting on everybody else to help look after ours. We're all parents. They're all our children. 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. And by that measure, can we truly say as a nation that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children -- all of them -- safe from harm?" the president asked.

"The answer is no. We're not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I've been president this is fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings," he said. "We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. To end them, we must change. We will be told the causes of such violence are complex -- and that 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."

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"Surely we can do better than this. We can't accept events like these as routine," Obama said. "Are we really prepared to admit that we're powerless against this carnage, that the politics are too hard?"

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy introduced Obama.

MSNBC, CNN and Fox News Channel broadcast the entire inter-faith vigil, which began approximately 4:49 p.m./7:49 p.m. EST at Newtown High School. Numerous Internet live streams, from ABC News, CNN and others, were also available. The vigil, which was originally scheduled for a 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST start, was delayed because Obama was meeting with grieving families.

NBC broke into programming at roughly 5:38 p.m., in the middle of its Sunday Night Football matchup between the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers, as did broadcast nets like CBS to air the president's remarks, which he worked on personally according to CNN. (CNBC and NBC Sports Network aired the football game while NBC carried the president's address.) Prior to, SNF's Bob Costas -- who was vocal about gun control -- opened the SNF pre-game program Football Night in America by showing footage of NFL coaches and players, including New York Giants' Tom Coughlin, Victor Cruz and Miami Dolphins' Joe Philbin, talking about the effect of the Newtown shooting.

Retired Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman was among the attendees at the vigil. Rev. Matt Crebbin, Newtown Congregational Church; Rabbi Shaul Praver, Congregation Adathi; Rev. Mel Kawakami, Newtown United Methodist Church; Kathie Adams-Shepherd, Trinity Episcopal Church; Rev. Jim Solomon, New Hope Community Church; members of Newtown's Muslim community; John Woodall, Baha'i community leader; Rev. Leo McIlrath, Lutheran Home of Southbury; and Rev. Jane Sibley, Newtown United Methodist Church were those offering prayer, while Patricia Llodra, first selectman, Newtown was among those speaking.

On Friday morning, 27 people -- including 20 children and the gunman -- were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. Later that day, Obama addressed the nation: "We're going to have to get together and take meaningful action."

Jane Kellogg contributed to this report.

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