As he told the 1,000 people, including the surviving families, as he spoke on the stark stage of Newtown High School Sunday night, the President said, "I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone. … Across this land of ours, we have wept with you."
And he pledged, "These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change."
Noting this was the fourth time in his presidency the nation has had to deal with senseless acts of gun violence, the President said it was "the fourth time we've hugged survivors. The fourth time we've consoled the families of victims.
"There have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children. Much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
He added, "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."
The President asked, "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 the price of our freedom?"
Courtesy Cristina Hassinger
His speech cited the heroics of the six Sandy Hook school personnel who sacrificed their own lives trying to protect the children.
As audible sobs were heard from the audience, Obama closed his words by reading the first names of all those killed.
Seven funerals are planned to take place in Newtown on Monday. More will follow in the coming weeks.