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Obama’s Moral Compass Address: After Newtown, ‘We Must Change’

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on December 17, 2012

“Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison, God has called them all home.”

After President Obama met with Sandy Hook victims’ families at Newtown High School, the president addressed a grieving nation through a roomful of mourners. Newtown, weary of any more outsider intrusion, accepted the president at its interfaith vigil, allowing him not only to eulogize the 20 children and 6 adults taken from their community and from making our world better, but allowing him to address the nation about our moral compass.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Obama, as you might expect, was swiftly criticized by some of his stubborn political opposition for needlessly “politicizing” a vigil. But his vigil address was only political insofar as publicly declaring a desire to see fewer murdered innocent children is a political act.

The speech called for healing. The speech called for leadership. The speech delivered both. Obama biographer David Maraniss tweeted shortly after, “People will long remember what Barack Obama said in Newtown…his Gettysburg address…” It’s a bold statement, to be sure, but take a look at the address and see if you agree with such high praise.

Here’s the money graf from which action may follow:

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’re meeting our obligations?

Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?

Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return?

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, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.

And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose — much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

Click here for the full transcript.

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