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

6:29 PM PST 12/16/2012 by Philiana Ng
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On Sunday evening, the president -- wiping away tears several times during his remarks -- addressed Newtown and the nation in a widely broadcast speech, promising that change must come: "Surely we can do better than this."

An emotional President Obama addressed the Newtown, Conn., community and the nation Sunday evening at the town's interfaith vigil, wiping away tears several times during his remarks, which were broadcast live on major 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 vigil, which began at about 7:49 p.m. EST at Newtown High School. Numerous Internet live streams, from ABC News, CNN and others, also were available. The vigil, which originally was scheduled for a 7 p.m. EST start, was delayed because Obama was meeting with grieving families.

NBC broke into programming at about 5:38 p.m., in the middle of its Sunday Night Football matchup between the New England Patriots and 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.) SNF's Bob Costas -- who has been vocal about gun control -- opened the pregame program Football Night in America by showing footage of NFL coaches and players, including New York Giants' Tom Coughlin and 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. Among those offering prayer were 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. Patricia Llodra, first selectman, Newtown, was among those speaking.

On Friday morning, 28 people -- including 20 children -- were killed. 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.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com
Twitter: @insidethetube

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