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. MaryM

    Thank you President Obama. Our hearts are with the people of Newtown

    December 16, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  2. get violence out of movies and ban violent video games

    you wanna start somewhere? ban automatic assault machine guns and start to go after hollywood and their violent films...same for video games...they are not doing us any good.

    December 17, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  3. Stephen camau

    Ooh my America! We are with you in your grief. We do really console with you. Have all piles of condolences from right here in Kenya. I LOVE America,I Love you guys.

    December 17, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  4. wayne scurville

    Dear Mr President,

    Thank you for the most consoling words. Now how about some action, starting with a ban on the sales of all kinds of arms to civilians. Civilians with guns must be made to surrender them with no exception. Someone has foolishly asked me whats the point in banning guns, does it mean that if we were to bans cars we will have no accidents? I would like to politely ask the gentleman/lady who asked the question whether it ia a logical argument to compare guns with cars. One is a mode of transport the other a weapon which in the wrong hands can cause death, horror and tragedy like we have seen recently. Hence we cannot compare apples with oranges. Mr President, you have the power to make a big difference in the future of this nation. We ask you not to be swayed by Gun lobbies and other crazies who crave guns, which has become for them a drug, that they are now addicted to. They think that they feel empowered by a gun and it gives them a false sense of security. They could never be further from the truth. Some people have asked for a ban on just assault weapons. The signal that they are sending out is that with a less powerful gun you can still kill, although a fewer number of people/kids at a time. Does this even make sense??. Either you ban all weapons or you dont ban any at all. There can be no middle ground over here. So , Mr President, we ask that you transform the future of this nation, from more agony and despair to hope and peace. Thank you for listening.

    December 17, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  5. Republican

    God Bless America! Great talk Mr President!

    December 17, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  6. Nurse143

    What a beautiful speech after this national tragedy; hoping we live up to the task and show the NRA that they are not in charge, most of their members support wise ideas like banning assault weapons and not allowing people on the terrorist watch list to buy weapons – common sense that even if in place may not have stopped this event but could potentially prevent future events. What choice do we have indeed?!

    December 17, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  7. theclappingmonkey

    Have some guts, you are the President. Have the guts to call people out and demand real gun control. This is a sick society.

    December 17, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  8. modesty richards

    I love the way president obamas message to those who has lost their childrens and the adults its sad so sad hearts are very heavy my heart and soul goes out to all that are grieving may god give u strenght to carry on

    December 17, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  9. Clay

    ...for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.
    Yes, Mr. President. We will humbly walk wiith you on this journey.

    December 17, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  10. Name

    Don't stop there, Mr. President!

    December 17, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  11. NameDorien

    There are already some who question the President's timing in this call to action. But I challenge them to question his message.

    December 17, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  12. Lauren

    My heart is broken for the families who have suffered such inexplicable loss...I keep asking myself how we can all live in a country that stands by and let's people in our own communities have semi-automatic weapons!?? Why??! It makes me so so angry and I have no place to turn. Why are people not blaming this country's lenient gun laws for this tragedy. Why are they not changing? Again I ask why should some insane mother in Connecticut have a gun arsenal? That her disturbed kids has access to!! Please. Someone tell me this.

    December 17, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  13. Marilyn

    President Obama has always spoken with eloquence and compassion. This speech has comforted me and I hope and pray it did the same for all the families that have lost loved ones in this tragedy.

    December 17, 2012 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  14. Name

    I watch our Persident on tv and was very happy with his speech. I hope that the poeple who are so much in love with guns would take a serious look at what happen on friday would understand that this whats happen when you make a choice in life thatit might not be the right one. It left twenty little ones who is not with us anymore and didnt derserve to have their little lives taken from them.

    December 17, 2012 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  15. Constance

    I"m Listening to "Novus" with Placido Domingo singing and Carlos Santana playing guitar as I read President Obama's transcript of his words to the People of Newtown, CT. It is good music for this. My sister lives in Newtown, CT and I have driven the Newtown roads to get to her home. So quiet and lovely a location ! Such chaos and screams in this current tragedy. The President's words are reverent, and full of his personal heart for his own children along with all children. I was moved by the strength and simplicity of his words. Christ's Mass this year will be one of being on my knees this year with my hope for our planet in the forefront. My the All Mighty One Bless Us & Have Mercy On Us.

    December 17, 2012 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  16. Davdi Mutea

    Moving and appropriate. Kuddos to you.

    December 17, 2012 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  17. Old News

    Well written, as most of his speeches are. He's pulling the moderate Christians over to the left in droves.

    December 17, 2012 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  18. James

    Two quick questions:

    Did Obama actually write all of that drivel himself?

    Were the crocodile tears scripted?

    December 17, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  19. Scott Bunnell

    While I'm sure we all share the President's sentiments and grief, I still find it alarming that over two-thirds of his speech referred to God and the Bible. I understand the need (and the inevitable desire) to reach ought to a Higher Power when something inexplicable happens.
    Still, this is nothing more than a false hope. The only thing we can count on is ourselves–to grieve together, to mourn together, to think together, to create lasting solutions together.
    I, myself, wish that it were not true. But it is. There is no God who cares about us, who can help us in our time of need. Otherwise, he easily could have prevented this massacre in the first place.
    But, take heart Newtown and America–as Atheists, believers, agnostics, New Age spiritists, whatever–we stand with you, and we will not let you down until justice is done.
    Tragically, nothing will bring your your children or loved ones back, but perhaps, finally, we can rally together to stop the absurd level of gun violence in our country, and join at last the rest of the civilized world–who don't have a Second Amendment–reigning in the caprice of human inhumanity and maleficence.

    December 17, 2012 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  20. Name

    Great speech but is he actually going to bring about a change to these misfortunate events?

    December 17, 2012 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  21. josh rogen

    separation of church and state????

    December 17, 2012 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  22. Anonymous

    why are you reading this speak it from the HEART!

    December 17, 2012 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  23. S Hills

    It was so obvious that it was going to be the Democratic, "I told you so," vengeance political argument to change the agenda. The wiping of the tear from his eye (again) did not work. Too many from both parties are there for themselves so whatever they can do to make themselves feel safer - that they will do and THAT you WILL OBEY!!! You will obey them folks.

    December 17, 2012 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  24. jlf

    it was upseting to me and i am sure the families of the principal, teachers, and school psychologist who lost their lives protecting the children that President Obama was the only one who mentioned them-they too are suffering from their loss from this tragic and unspeakable event. there are now 28 new stars in the sky, not the 20 that the leader of the international service refered to.

    December 17, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  25. upside down

    I didn't. I didn't know any of them. Yes, very, very sad tragedy. But I didn't weep. I still finished my work day. I still went Christmas shopping.

    December 17, 2012 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
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