Church bells tolled 26 times at St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown Saturday morning to honor the 20 children and six educators who were killed.
The church was just one of several houses of worship that held private services for a community still in mourning.
President Barack Obama said in a radio address that the massacre will be remembered as a tragedy that inspired the nation to make communities safer.
"We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily. We have to do more to heal troubled minds. We have to do everything we can to protect our children from harm and make them feel loved, and valued, and cared for,'' said Obama, who also observed a moment of silence and lit candles at the White House in honor of the victims.
Newtown Marks 1-Year Anniversary Of Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Newtown officials have repeatedly asked for privacy on the anniversary and asked town residents to honor the victims through acts of service in kindness.
"In this way, we hope that some small measure of good may be returned to the world,'' JoAnn Bacon, whose 6-year-old daughter, Charlotte, was killed at Sandy Hook.
The town had no formal events planned for Saturday, and officials have discouraged the news media from coming to Newtown.
"We are trying to respect the world's interest in us, but we also have a real need in our community to gain a foothold,'' First Selectman Pat Llodra said.
Ahead of the one-year milestone Carlee Soto, who lost her sister Vicki, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, reflected on the famous photo of her on a cellphone on that terrible day, her face in anguish, WCBS 880's Paul Murnane reported.
"It doesn't define me but it's something that brings back so many terrible memories and I'll never be able to get away from that photo," Soto said.
A mother who lost her 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, at Sandy Hook posted a YouTube video to express what the tragedy has taught her during the last year.
The video touches on who Emilie was, the pain that was caused, and the effort to move forward from the tragedy, while keeping Emilie close to her heart.
On the anniversary of the shooting, WCBS 880's Brigitte Quinn spoke with Frederikke Vedel, the creator of "Mend - A Tribute to the Angels of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown CT," to talk about the inspiration and meaning behind her song.
Nation Honors 26 Victims Of Sandy Hook Massacre
"After the Newtown tragedy, I felt a strong feeling inside of me to create a song that would help heal Newtown, inspire change, reflect the lessons that we're learning from this horrific event, and to bring comfort to people as they listen to the song," Vedel said.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, killed his mother inside their Newtown home on Dec. 14, 2012, before driving to the school, where he carried out his rampage. He killed himself as police arrived.
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