Locals React to Obama's Speech at Prayer Vigil for Newtown Shooting Victims

President speaks after meeting with local families who lost loved ones in the school shooting.

After visiting with the families of the Newtown school shooting victims Sunday, President Barack Obama spoke at a prayer vigil in the grieving Connecticut town.

"We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults," Obama said to a crowd of families and local first responders at Newtown High School. "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."

Read the full transcript of the president's speech on The Washington Post.

Continuing a message of togetherness imbued by local clergy members earlier in the vigil, Obama said the nation stands by Newtown and its suffering people.

"And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide," he said. "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."

In the middle portion of his speech, the president said we'll be judged as a society by how we take care of our children.

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

Obama concluded his speech listing the first names of the 20 children who died in the mass shooting. He spoke in a staccato rhythm, pausing discernibly between the names of the six and seven year olds.

"For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory," the president said.


After the speech, we asked the 1503 fans of the Stratford Patch Facebook page: What did you think about the President's speech tonight?

Here were some of the responses, most of them centering around gun control (Last names have been omitted for privacy reasons):

"It was heartfelt, and for the first time I actually like our President." - Lori

"He did great for the first 10 minutes, the underlying gun control comments could have waited. Otherwise he did fine." - Paul

"I was thinking the same thing. It wasn't the time or place to talk about that but I [think] that it was heartfelt as well. You knew he meant those words." - Valerie

"I think it was the exact right time to say those words and address this issue. I was proud of him." - Kelly

"Why should the comments about gun control wait? When is a good time? When we stop remembering how these babies had their lives taken away from us? If not now, when?" - Jen

"Our President needed to address the guns -- it was the gorilla in the room -- and I am sure every family of the children killed by those guns appreciated it." - Tommy

"Inappropriate time to mention gun control at a service. It should be discussed when lawmakers can fully assess motive and accessibility...not at a time of mourning." - Matt

"Enough is enough! This is a time grieving not disagreeing." - Fady

"I thought it was very touching and heartfelt." - Kimberly

The first funerals to be held for victims of the Newtown school shooting are set for today.


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