December 16th, 2012
08:48 PM ET
10 years ago

TRANSCRIPT: 'We have wept with you,' Obama says in Newtown speech

(CNN) - President Barack Obama offered the condolences of a nation to the people of Newtown, Connecticut, during a memorial service Sunday night, saying, "All across this land of ours, we have wept with you. ... Newtown, you are not alone."

Saying "we can't accept events like this as routine," Obama said he'll use "whatever power" he has to prevent "more tragedies like" what happened Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 were killed in a mass school shooting before the gunman killed himself.

"Surely we can do better than this," the president said.

See the full speech after the jump.

"Thank you, Governor. To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests - 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 an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.'

“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 be any town in America.

“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; 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.

"As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate. Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy - they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances - with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care. We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms, and kept steady through it all, and reassured their students by saying 'wait for the good guys, they’re coming'; 'show me your smile.'

"And we know that good guys came. The first responders who raced to the scene, helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety, and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and trauma because they had a job to do, and others needed them more.

"And then there were the scenes of the school children, helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do. One child even tried to encourage a grown-up by saying, 'I know karate, so it's OK. I'll lead the way out.'

“As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other, and you’ve cared for one another, and you’ve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered. And with time, and God’s grace, that love will see you through.

"But we, as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around. With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves - our child - is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice. And every parent knows there is nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet, we also know that with that child’s very first step, and each step after that, they are separating from us; that we won’t - that we can’t always be there for them. They’ll suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments. And we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.

"And we know we can’t do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that 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? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

"I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

"Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America - victims whose - much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that 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. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that - then surely we have an obligation to try.

"In the coming weeks, I will 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. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

"All the world’s religions - so many of them represented here today - start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.

"There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have - for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace - that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger - we know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.

"That’s what we can be sure of. And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“'Let the little children come to me,' Jesus said, 'and do not hinder them - for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'

"Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison.

"God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

"May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America."

Filed under: Connecticut • President Obama
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Love Thy Neighbor

    Thank you CNN we watched the memorial service. We were so heartbroken that we avoided watching any news since Friday. As a country we must Pray for the families that lost loved ones. Pray for our President and elected officials, First Responders and Clergy of all faiths.

    December 16, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  2. Over the hill

    Proud to have Obama as our president.

    December 16, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  3. Angel

    God bless the children.

    December 16, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  4. BeverlyNC

    It is time to stop weeping and start banning these weapons of mass destruction. No more assault weapons sold to the pulblic. NO ONE outside the police and military needs access to weapons of that caliber. The NRA needs to be stopped promoting guns like toys and the latest video game pretending guns are not dangerous. ENOUGH of the political nonsense and let's protect the innocent PEOPLE and usually CHILDREN who are murdered in increasing numbers with GUNS every year. We have had 181 incidents like this one since Columbine. ENOUGH.

    December 16, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. SafeJourney

    We, the American people have had enough of this killing of our Citizens and especially our Children. This has to stop Now!

    December 16, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. salli gilmore

    sazbot66 1 second ago
    Our children are our everything...all children all countries all of humanity.
    Let us ALL make it safer for them ALL OVER THIS WORLD.
    I am an Aussie Mum whose heart is breaking for the devastating loss.
    thankyou Barack for saying what we are all feeling

    December 16, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  7. Name Jamey

    The Presidents speech was spoken with true eloquence. This was a terrible tragedy that we cannot accept as a daily occurence and be content any longer! We must make changes for our children to feel safe and grow up happy and without fear in their daily lives. This has become all too common place and no one seems like we have the power to take control and change these terrible situations! We must for our childrens sakes and their futures........

    December 16, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  8. Melinda

    These families will never be the same. They will put one foot in front of the other and cobble together a life and will, someday have happiness again. But they are forever different. The missing leave a whole in the fabric of our being that is unable to be sewn back together.

    December 16, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  9. Archleach

    Thank you Mr. President

    December 16, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  10. Raj47

    Nation is in mourning. We are all saddened by what happened in Newton. We need to discuss how to stop it and everything should be at the table. Psychiatrist, teachers, law enforcement, gun control, everything and everyone who can make a change, should be on the table. We CAN NOT afford to loose precious little lives like this.

    December 16, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  11. Icare

    Yes I can see that the US government cares about innocent children. Total US Drone strikes: 354
    Obama strikes: 302
    Total reported killed: 2,597-3,398
    Civilians reported killed: 473-889
    Children reported killed: 176
    Total reported injured: 1,256-1,414

    December 16, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  12. rainder agoyal

    From a masterful President, comes a masterful speech. Only Obama could come up with such touching words. He is great human being and we are proud of him. May God bless him and all those young and innocent children who lost their lives so the gun lobby could prosper, Americans, stand up to NRA and the gun dealers.

    December 16, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  13. Aileen C.

    Beutifully said! Obama is a great president, humble and thinks of others. His words and actions not only touch our hearts but heals them at the same time. Great Job Mr. President.
    To Newtown, my family prays for you all – take care & God Bless.

    December 16, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  14. lestermanalo

    Thank you, Mr. President. I hope your words have brought some comfort to the community of Newtown. The thoughts and prayers of people around the world are with them now.

    December 16, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  15. jdiazmar

    sick of his speeches. He claims no one hesitated. Bull, theres a killer with a gun. No one has a cool head. Just address the issue, limit big guns. Limit magazines. Limit who gets to own them.

    December 16, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  16. Betty Walters

    I was raised to say "I Love You"before I left to go anywhere, before bedtime and really anytime we were together. It made us feel good. You know, kinda warm and fuzzy.alsowe knew that it could be the last thing we ever said to each other. I have had plenty of sorrow. My brother was murdered, I had to take my mom off life support and hold my husband in my arms until died. The last words they heard from me was

    December 16, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  17. R. Repsher

    This was just an awful tragedy! Poor children and before the holidays yet! America needs to have the death penalty in every state and even need to institue torture for people that do this evil acts! I pray for all the people that was effected from this horrible tragedy! Ryan repsher. Pennsylvania

    December 16, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  18. Betty Walters


    December 16, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  19. NameTodd Brock

    Though our hearts ache for Newtown, we are all reminded how fragile and uncertain life can be. May this tragic day bring our Nation together once again, in unity and resolve to ensure these cowardice acts of violence on our children are a dark thing of the past. Newtown you will never be forgotten and will remain in our prayers daily! God Bless all the victims of this tragic day, and may there come a day soon when you can smile once again. Our hearts may be broken, but our Spirit and resolve to take care of our children has never been stronger. God Bless!

    December 16, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  20. Marcia

    Well said. We need to get back to respecting each other. We all have special gifts that can make our communities stronger which makes our country stronger. It starts with parents and dedicated teachers . Look like the authorities and officials need to get together to decide the safety of our children. Maybe it is bullet proof doors or
    must stand in a closed boxed to be let in and let out like banks. These little babies need this country to protect them when they are put under the school's watch .

    December 16, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  21. James

    OK–I smell gun control on the horizon in spite of the Constitution.

    December 16, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  22. Ricardo Williams

    Beautiful speech. We need to do better as a country.

    December 16, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |

    Omg, the names little ones you didn't die in vain..

    December 16, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  24. Susan Faith-Sheridan

    It was a beautiful speech. I had to stop from reading several times to wipe away my tears all the time thinking about the parents and family members what they must be going through. God. Bless them all.

    December 16, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  25. John Cage

    In History of America never has been a President show so much emotion about killing. America History there were many, many crime involve with children no President ever show this kind sorrow of lost child. He wasn.t speaking as President but as father.Nobody can ever doubt now Obama is truly the President for All the people. We finally got a President who care for us regardless if we are Republica or Democate. God bless you Pesident Obama

    December 16, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
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