An emotional President Barack Obama Friday decried what he called the "heinous crime" in Connecticut, saying "our hearts are broken" and calling for efforts to stem the tide of violence.
Fighting back tears and often losing, Obama said "I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old."
He wiped tears from his eyes as he continued: "They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams."
He ticked off the recent spate of shootings and called for action: "As a country, we have been through this too many times," he said. "Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
He said that he and first lady Michelle Obama Friday night "will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another."
But, he added, "There are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as President to help. Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need -- to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours. May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds."