One week after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, first lady Michelle Obama wrote an open letter to the grieving town to show her support for its residents.
In the letter, titled “Holding You In Our Hearts,” Obama says that she understands the pain the families of the victims are enduring seems unbearable and that many may be asking themselves how they go on as families and a community. She says she is “awed and inspired by Newtown’s heroes,” from the first responders to the teachers who sacrificed their lives to protect their students to the children and families who now have to comfort and support each other during this time of mourning.
She also referred back to her husband’s statement Wednesday, when he said he would use all the powers of his office to try and prevent future tragedies. Both she and her husband have responded to the massacre, not as the president and first lady of the United States, but as the parents of two daughters. During the president’s news conference shortly after news of the shooting broke, he said, “I know there’s not a parent in America that doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief as I do.”
The first lady echoed her husband’s sentiment, saying, “And please know that every minute of every day, we are thinking of you, and praying for you, and holding you and your families in our hearts as you begin the slow and wrenching work of healing and moving forward.”
You can read the first lady’s full letter, which was first published in the Hartford Courant, below.
“December 20, 2012
Over the past week, we as Americans have been united in our grief as Newtown has laid to rest so many beautiful, innocent children, along with the heroic educators who worked every day to help them achieve their dreams.
As a mother of two young daughters, my heart aches for you and your families. Like so many Americans, I wish there were something – anything – I could do or say to ease your anguish.
But I know that I cannot begin to imagine the depths of your grief. I know that for many of you, the pain you are enduring right now seems unbearable; and many of you may be asking yourselves, how can we go on – as families and as a community?
Over the past week, I have been awed and inspired by Newtown’s heroes: the first responders who risked their lives at a moment’s notice; the educators whose devotion to their students shone brightest in one of our nation’s darkest hours; the children who comforted each other despite their fear; the families coming together to support each other as they grieve.
And I am so proud of the outpouring of love and support that has come from every corner of America: from first responders from neighboring cities rushing to help however they could; from people in Cleveland and Charlotte and Juneau and so many other communities joining together to honor Newtown with their thoughts and prayers; and in living rooms and houses of worship and the halls of our government, where we are beginning to have those difficult conversations about how we can build a safer, more peaceful tomorrow for all our children.
And I want you to know that this is just the beginning. As my husband has said, in the coming weeks, he will use all the powers of his office to engage citizens from across this country to find ways to prevent tragedies like this one. And please know that every minute of every day, we are thinking of you, and praying for you, and holding you and your families in our hearts as you begin the slow and wrenching work of healing and moving forward.
In the months and years ahead, may the memories of those beautiful children and those heroic adults be a blessing for their families, for your community, and for our country, and may God bless you all.
First Lady Michelle Obama, Washington DC”