Obama Newtown Speech: President Grieves, Asks "Hard Questions" at Vigil

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President Barack Obama spoke at a prayer vigil in Newton, Connecticut, Sunday night in honor of the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Quoting from scripture more than once and clearly stung by Friday's events on a personal level, Obama lent a father's sympathy to this town's (and nation's) grief.

When he read the list of victims' names, there wasn't a dry eye in the house - including his.

Obama also sounded a call to action - though he didn't lay out any specifics - saying the tragedy poses "hard questions" to America as a whole.

"This is our first task, caring for our children. 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," he said.

"Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm? ... I've been reflecting on this the last few days."

"If we're honest with ourselves, the answer's no. We're not doing enough. And we will have to change."

The President, in remarks written largely by himself this weekend, also vowed to use the power of his office to prevent such heinous acts in the future.

"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 aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have?"

"We can't accept events like this as routine," Obama said.

He sounded a similar note in remarks in the hours after the shooting, while crying at a press conference, although he did not indicate what that action might be.

The Connecticut shooting has moved Obama to an unusual degree, perhaps displaying more raw emotion in his remarks than in any public event he took the oath of office.

A leader who has often struggled to convey warmth in office instead struggled to retain his composure while addressing the nation's grief over the shooting.

The president's Newtown speech marked the fourth time - something not lost on him - he's consoled the nation from a grieving community in such fashion.

Will it be the last? Probably not. But it looks like this marked a turning point of sorts for his administrations and its efforts to proactively try to stop these events.

Expect the gun control debate - and hopefully a similar debate over the availability of mental health services - to be stronger and more heated than ever.

Time for major reform?

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Barack Obama Biography

Barack and Michelle Obama
Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America. He became a Democratic U.S. Senator from Illinois in 2004, and has... More »
Born
Birthplace
Honolulu, Hawaii
Full Name
Barack Hussein Obama II

Barack Obama Quotes

I do think in Washington, it's a little bit like American Idol. But everybody is Simon Cowell.

Barack Obama

I think I'm a pretty cool dad.

Barack Obama