WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) - An emotional President Barack Obama addressed the nation Friday afternoon and said the country's leaders must "take meaningful action'' regardless of politics in response to the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school.
The president teared up, at times using an index finger to wipe at the corner of his eyes, as he addressed the nation from the White House. He also paused repeatedly as he struggled to keep his composure while speaking of the 20 children who had died and the life milestones they now would miss.
"Our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost," he said. "Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors, as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain.''
Obama's comments on the tragedy amounted to one of the most outwardly emotional moments of his presidency.
"The majority of those who died were children -- beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old," Obama said.
He paused for several seconds to keep his composure as he teared up and wiped an eye. Nearby, two aides cried and held hands as they listened to Obama.
"They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, wedding, kids of their own," Obama continued about the victims. "Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.''
The president made it clear the madness must stop, and he called on everyone to put aside their political beliefs and work together to find a solution to the violence.
"As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is 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,'' the president said.
Shortly before speaking, Obama ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff on public grounds through Tuesday.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy also ordered U.S. and Connecticut flags to half-staff in recognition of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"I offered Gov. Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families,'' Obama said.
Flags will fly at half-staff until burial services for the victims.
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