US First Lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign event at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on September 13, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)
A week after a shooting rampage in a Newtown elementary school left 27 people dead -- including 20 first graders and six teachers -- First Lady Michelle Obama penned an open letter to the residents of Newtown, which ran in the Hartford Courant under the title 'Holding You In Our Hearts.'
In the letter, Obama said she was inspired by the heroism of first responders, teachers and children in the school, and proud of the support the entire nation has shown over the past week. And she promised that President Obama will 'use the powers of his office' to find ways to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Here is the full letter:
6:41 p.m. EST, 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