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Newtown quietly marks dark day

by JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN Associated Press on December 14, 2013 10:41 AM

NEWTOWN, Conn. — President Barack Obama called on the nation to help prevent future violence in an address released on today’s anniversary of the school shooting in Newtown, which planned a day of quiet reflection with private memorial services and the ringing of bells for the victims.

Obama said in his radio address that the massacre of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School 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 planned to observe a moment of silence at the White House in honor of the victims.

Newtown officials have called for privacy and asked town residents to honor the victims through acts of service and kindness. At a joint appearance during the week in Newtown, some of the victims’ families urged people to find ways to give back to their own communities.

“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 today, 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.

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.

At St. Rose of Lima, the Roman Catholic church that hosted the funerals of eight children, a service will include the dedication of a memorial arch and the ringing of peace bells that also were rung at Virginia Tech after the mass shooting there in 2007 and in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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