Obama at Vigil Service: America's First Job is Caring for Our Children [Updated]

President Obama told vigil service attendees on Sunday that America is not doing enough to keep its children safe.


Updated, 12/17, 10:50 a.m.

The following are excerpts from the remaining clergy that spoke at Sunday evening's vigil:

"Oh God, exhaulted and full of compassion, grant perfect peace in your sheltering presence among the holy and the pure to the souls of all our loved ones that perished on that horrible day. They have gone to their eternal home. Master of mercy, we beseech you, remember all of their worthy and righteous deeds that they performed in the land of living and may their souls be bound up in the bond of lifet enteral. There is no death, just transformation. May they rest in peace." —Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel after singing Psalm 46

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”—Rev. Kathleen E. Adams-Shepard, rector of Trinity Episcopal.

"The Muslim community at Al Hedya in Newtown, Connecticut and throughout the nation, join with our fellow Americans grieving for those who died in this senseless tragedy and praying for them and their families. We ask God to grant those lost those to special place in paradise and we ask their families to be granted the strength to endure the unendurable. It is in such times of almost unbearable loss that we seek the of our creator, and that artificial divisions of faith fall away to reveal a nation of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, all united in a desire to bring healing and renewed hope."Muadh Bhavnagarwala of the Al Hedaya Islamic Center

Updated, 9:27 p.m.

As President Barack Obama arrived in Newtown Sunday night, scores of folks, from near and far, gathered in the center of Sandy Hook for a makeshift vigil.

"I guess I'm just here to lend my support and comfort anyway I can," Camille Wallace, a Queens, NY resident who came to Connecticut for the day. "You never really know what to do in this situation. I'm trying to talk to whoever I can, pass along a hug."

Wallace was one of the passerbys dropping flowers, hand-written messages and stuffed animals among dozens of burning candles at the intersection of Church Hill Road and Washingtown Avenue, in front of and around a giant tree decorated for Christmas.

David Fuselier, of Southbury, said he and others in the area are "heartbroken." Angela Williams, a paramedic from Philadelphia who came to show compassion for those hurting, shared that sentiment. She was there with her 3-year-old, Alex—one of many youngsters surveying the scene.

"He's asked, 'What's going on?' The best I can come up with is a bad man was hurting and he hurt others," she said. "And we're here to try and help pick up the pieces."

Signs declaring "Together We Are Strong" and "Love Will Get Us Through" were sprinkled throughout the town and village. Along Church Hill Road, where people parked their cars and walked to the memorial, balloons were tied to painted figures of angels planted in the ground.

Updated, 9:10 p.m.

An excerpt from the prayer by Rev. Msgr Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church:

"We bring to you 20 new stars in the heavens, 20 new saints, 20 new angels. We bring to you those who risk their lives for us everyday not counting the cost, and we bring to you those who died, those who counsel, those who bless and embrace the confused and the broken. And now in this prayer, we bring to you ourselves, our questions, our doubts, our anger and our hearts, and we pray for the peace, the hope and the renewal of trust that can come only from a God who first conceived us in love and places a hand of compassion on each of our shouldlers even in the most trying times. And so tonight for our community, a community deepl pained, we ask you to heal our brokenness, to answer our questions, to replace our doubts with certainty, our anger with peace and our hurt with and healing…"

Updated, 8:59 p.m.

After reading the names of the Sandy Hook victims, Obama said that "for those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."

Updated, 8:54 p.m.

Obama spoke with attendees on keeping America's children safe:

"We come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child because we count on everyone to 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 obligation... We are not doing enough and we will have to change."

Updated, 8:45 p.m.

An excerpt from President Obama's address to vigil service attendees:

"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 any town of good and decent people. They could be any town in America. I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I'm very mindful that mere words cannot match your depths of sorrow, nor could they heal your wounded hearts....Newtown you are not alone."

Updated, 8:37 p.m.

An excerpt from Gov. Malloy's speech at the vigil:

"[In spring], when flowers start to come out of the ground and when they rise, I will know that we are in touch with those we have lost in the last few days. We will go on, we will find strength, faith is a gift as is our ability to support one another in our great community. To all of you, I extend my most profound condolences for what you have seen, witnessed and personally experienced. We will move on, but we will never forget..."

Updated, 8:34 p.m.

First Selectwoman Patricia Llodra, who introduced Gov. Dan Malloy, said that Newtown is a "place that loves children above all" and would "not be defined" the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Updated, 8:29 p.m.

"Be though not disconosolate, do not languish, do not sigh, nor wail or weep for agitation and morning deeply affect their souls in the divine realm."

—John Woodall, Ba'hai Community Leader

 Updated 8:21 p.m.

Rev. Jane Sibley of Newtown United Methodist Church offered a prayer for first responders. The following is an excerprt:

"You gave them gifts for their life to serve you. They were asked to pay a high price for all the skills that they have been given, for the strength that they have. You equipped them, you gave them a willingness to learn and train, you gave them a willingness to serve late at night when the call would come in—a willingness to respond when this town needed them the most. Lord we thank you for those that responded, for those thoughout the state that came when the need was given..."

Updated, 8:11 p.m.

An excerpt from a prayer by Rev. Jim Solomon of the New Hope Community Church:

"Dear Lord, as we leave the children that we lost in your hands, we ask that by your grace you woud empower us to bless and comfort the children that are still here in our hands. Please be with them in a special way as they grieve the loss of siblings and friends. Life will never be the same, yet we ask that you help these precious little ones to carry the spirits of their lost loved ones in their hearts as they go along living their lives to its fullest according to your will for each of these girls and boys."

Updated, 8:06 p.m.

An excerpt from a prayer by Mell Kawakami, senior pastor of Newtown Methodist Church:

“Each light that sits before us is a light that’s been lost to our world. So many innocents, so many brave...Lord all we can do is throw ourselves upon your tender mercies hoping that you hear our prayers… and so we pray for all of the souls lost and all of the families and friends torn by grief, for in this moment, we are all your children."

Updated, 7:53 p.m.

Rev. Matt Crebbin, minister of Newtown Congregational Church, has opened the interfaith vigil service. He said that the clergy in attendance has chosen to sit in the audience instead of on stage because "we wanted to have a symbolic gesture that we ourselves are with you and among you in these coming days—that we we are all together."

Original Story

An interfaith vigil for families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings, as well as families from the school, is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the line to enter the building is already long.

The Red Cross is in attendance and is handing out blankets and water and stuffed animals, according to Amy Krasowski, of Fairfield and formerly of Sandy Hook.

[Editor's Note: This article has been updated to correct a quote that was wrongly attributed to Rev. Mossis.]

dave December 17, 2012 at 02:02 AM
just another photo op for the phony in chief. this is a man who voted 3 times in the illinois state legislater to deny children who survived an abortion medical treatment. he really cares about children, doesnt he? my prayers and thoughts go out to the families and friends of these precious gifts from God. i know there is nothing that can console the hearts and souls of those that lost loved ones in this senseless horrific act of violence. I know that these little ones are now being cradled in the arms of our dear Lord and no one can hurt them anymore.
Kathleen Gemmell December 17, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Vigil Service. Thank you all. Thank you Mr. President.
ctmom December 17, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Dave, please have some common decency and show some respect, if you are capable of it, for the families touched by this tragedy and the people of Newtown. Leave your political views out of this. Shame on you.
Common Decency December 17, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Shame on you, lose the HATE!
Steven DeVaux December 17, 2012 at 02:34 AM
There is no greater loss that the loss of a child. None. Sandy Hook folks you are in my constant thoughts and prayers that your pain be eased.
Steven DeVaux December 17, 2012 at 02:51 AM
God bless the Monroe folks for opening their hearts and their Chalk Hill School to the Sandy Hook Elementary school kids and parents to go to school. Perhaps the state can find it in it's budget to demolish the SHES, erect a monument and build a new school in Newtown for them. It's the least the state could do and it would be right. They shouldn't hesitate.
Craig Zac December 17, 2012 at 02:54 AM
seriously? we're going to try and turn this into a political debate? $#&^%!! whats the matter with you? Lets not forget, 20 small children are dead...murdered, 20 families are sitting home, looking at their christmas decorations and all they can feel is numbing sadnes, despair and gut wretching sorrow, and some fool is gonna use this forum to spout off about the president. sicko!
Concerned Parent December 17, 2012 at 04:54 AM
This is an extremely delicate time for the people of Newtown and now is not the time to bring in politics into the mix.
Omahagirl December 17, 2012 at 05:40 AM
God bless all the families of Newtown.
NathanielRH December 17, 2012 at 09:41 AM
From me and my kids, our heart goes out to ALL the victims who are suffering. You guys are not alone there in Newton. We are ALL with you.
NathanielRH December 17, 2012 at 09:45 AM
I second this move. I hope this idea goes into play. These poor kids and teachers as well as the parents do not need to return to this school. I couldn't do it as a parent myself. I wouldn't let my children return either. It would be too hard.
NathanielRH December 17, 2012 at 09:46 AM
More Love and Less HATE.
Dave December 17, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I agree with with Steve,that school should be pushed down and never used again. The State and the US government can well afford it. No child should be made to re-enter that school the scars will be too great. Dave S.
JWolf December 17, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I do not like Obama at all but you Sir are a jackwaggon
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 17, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I've been in conversations on the Danbury Patch which is closest to the shooting. They are the folks who are in mourning, we can only give our sympathy. I feel for the educators who placed their lives in harms way to save their students. Greater love ... that they died that others may live. Others have criticized me for having an opinion on most matters, but it is better to be on one side of an issue than sitting on the fence and be hit from both sides. As a gun owner, I agree with our President. It is time to do something about preventing a repeat performance. I oppose the NRA. and it is time that our President take them on. The US Supreme Court has ruled that our 2nd amendment give every citizen the right to bear arms and not just the militia. So America has the most weapons in public hands than anywhere else in the world. One problem is when people with mental illness can obtain a gun from their own family member who knowingly doesn't secure those weapons from other family members. In my home, I control my gun safe and the rest of my family (except my wife) have never learned that I possess them. My guns were purchased to defend my family from my son-in-law who threatened to kill me, my wife, son and daughter and take my grandchildren to a country where there is no extradition treaty. I took gun courses, obtained a carry permit and registered the guns with my local police. Continued below
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 17, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Continued; I join thousands of citizens who feel that our President is right in changing our gun laws. I for one believe that no civilian has a need for an assault weapon. or any gun that has a capacity to shoot ten or more shots at a time. You don't hunt with such a weapon, nor do you need a 30 shot capacity to target shoot. In this country only 4% of gun violence is performed by a mentally ill person(Dr Phill 12/17/12) so let us discuss the real reasons. I truly believe the NRA is tangentially responsible for much gun crime in this nation due to their political power over our legislators. This power must be curbed or restricted and I hope many of you now agree with me. It is time for us to talk while those in Newtown mourn and bury their dead. It is the only way we can help them so that the motto "Never Again" has meaning.
SuperDave December 17, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Very well written Ronald. Being a total gun opponent my goal is not to take guns away from people, although I wish that would happen and I will never own one. I just want people to understand what they have, and assure that no one with ill intent will be able to get their hands on these weapons. There are many decent, responsible gun owners. But apparently there are some who do not deserve the PRIVILEDGE (not the right) to have weapons as they are not able to control their use. And no one needs an assault weapon. What is interesting to me is those who cling to the second amendment also value the first amendment, except when you talk anout the second amendment!
SuperDave December 17, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I did not vote for Obama as I don't agree with his policies. But he is a good and decent man and father, obviously moved, and this hate speech is unnecessary. I think he is handling this in a compassionate and comforting manner.
John M. Joy December 17, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Funny thing about the First Amendment: just because you have the right to say something doesn't mean you had ought to. Most of us have learned, for example, while still quite young, when encountering a woman with a large backside, you do not walk up to her and say, "Gee, lady, you have a large behind!" Doing so is the mark of the immature child. So once again I say, shame on all of you exploiting a tragedy to push an agenda.
RONALD M GOLDWYN December 17, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Mr Joy, If by an agenda, you mean talking about how to prevent a repeat performance, then I'm sorry. I know what it is to lose their only son. In my case it was medical malpractice. So I know how to grieve. We are not exploiting a tragedy, but like our President says it is time to fully discuss and I hope my representatives in all levels of government will act on the discussion. As I sit far from the scene in Newtown, and hear all the reports I have come to the conclusion that if the shooter's mother had her guns locked in a gun safe where her mentally ill son had no access too, maybe, just maybe this tragedy might not have occurred. In CT we have the right to own guns in our home, but need a license to carry them outside. Maybe we on the local level can require that all guns must be kept in a gun-safe with only the owner having access to its contents. Maybe we should regulate the sale of ammunition to those with valid gun licenses. Maybe all ammo should be tagged so that it may be traced to the end user. Maybe ammo should be taxed the same way that we tax cigarettes (Price it to reduce its use) The US Supreme Court has ruled that citizens have the right to bear arms, but we as citizens can set rules on how that right may be used. Our right is limited to our home and not in public places unless we are licensed. Maybe the penalty for breaking our gun laws are too low. A stiff penalty for the loss of a gun may be appriopiate Lets talk and tell our elected officials.
Ruth December 17, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Right now, the focus should be on the families who have lost so much and the children who survived, but experienced this horrific event. That being said, since you have started this gun discussion, etc., the President himself, at the vigil last night, brought this issue up, which I found distasteful and inappropriate. His speech started off beautifully, ended beautifully, but the inbetween was just not appropriate.
SuperDave December 17, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I could not disagree more. It is the mark of a weapons zealot to always interject "now is not the right time." The time is now. The time was a long time ago. Don't hide behind those poor grieving families. It is a serious situation when a supposed gentle and kind woman arms herself to the teeth with weapons designed to inflict maximum damage, and with ammunition that is also designed to create maximum damage. It need to be talked about. And I won't let the NRA and their sympathizers tell me when the time is right.
Ruth December 17, 2012 at 08:03 PM
I resent strongly being called a "weapons zealot", but one must respect these families. Yes, we need gun debates. I am not fond of guns and struggle with the "right to bear arms" and do not believe that assault weapons should be available to purchase period! My issue is that the President "went there" in undertones last night, and it was just not appropriate. Also, families did NOT want to hear about this being the 4th type event he has gone to in 4 years.....this time was PERSONAL to each and every one of these families. There IS a time and place for these discussions, but let these people at least get their loved ones taken care of before entering this arena. It is not an issue that is going to be resolved today or this week even IF we started discussions immediately. Compassion is everything right now.
John M. Joy December 17, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Thank you for a thoughtful, respectful reply (and terribly sorry to hear about your son). My concern is, other than the facts of the crime itself, we really don’t know much more. The matter is subject of an ongoing police investigation, and few facts have been released. Everything else, from the medications the shooter may have been taking, to the exact circumstances of his obtaining the weapons, is at best rumor and speculation. Also, while a gun safe requirement may seem, at first glance, like a good idea, as with many things there are unintended consequences. While I never want to see another incident like this one, nor do I want to see another one like Cheshire’s of a few years ago. Depending on what and where, having a weapon locked away may prevent access to it when it’s needed most. Any further restrictions enacted may also give people a false sense of security, much as does the proclamation of schools as “gun free zones.” Even if every gun disappeared from the face of the earth today, what would protect a hundred pound kindergarten teacher from a three-hundred pound monster with a club, chain or machete? Above all, Ruth is right: at the moment, we need to be respectful of those who have lost so much, and not politicize their loss.


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