From an Interfaith Memorial Service in Newtown, Conn., on Sunday night, President Barack Obama made a powerful appeal to the nation to address the root causes of an unthinkable and senseless act of violence on Friday that claimed the lives of 26 victims — 20 of them 6- and 7-year-old children — at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The president called on the heartbroken nation to look into its collective heart and take action to prevent similar tragedies. Obama — a father who has clearly also been grief-stricken like other Americans since the attack — truly rose to the occasion Sunday as “comforter in chief.”
The president demonstrated strong leadership in urging the nation to look to its better angels to prevent such senseless tragedies from falling upon other families. “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,” Obama said. “If we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. And we will have to change.”
There is no question that we have a violent culture in this country — indeed, we always have. But in recent years, we seem to have lost strong communities, which served as an important layer of protection from such unthinkable and senseless acts of violence that have plagued cities and towns across the country.
All adults, the president said, also have a responsibility as parents, whether they have their own children or not. “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 president said, in a speech he reportedly wrote himself. “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.”
In the coming days, weeks and months ahead, our nation will begin the process of trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy and finding ways we can prevent something like this from happening again. The public policy discussions — ranging from gun control, to better access to mental health services, to stronger security at schools — must take place in a rational manner.
But political solutions are only one piece of the puzzle. The more important piece is in stronger communities. That’s not something that comes from government policy, but from our own hearts.
Page 2 of 2 - As a nation, we owe it to the victims of this horrific act — and ourselves — to take stock of where our communities are and where they should be. The key part of this puzzle will not alone come from policy changes in Washington; it will come from our communities and from our own hearts.
Herald News of Fall River, Mass.