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Obama Visits Sandy Hook: Vigil Spreads Across Newtown

by Irene Yukash

Candles illuminated Newtown last night as people from all over the world attended a vigil in memory of Sandy Hook victims at Newtown High School.  President Obama met with victims’ families privately before addressing the public.

“I’ll use whatever power this office holds,” promised President Obama.  In regards to the victims of the Sandy Hook Massacre that took place Friday morning when gunman Ryan Lanza opened fire in the elementary school, “God has called them all home,” said President Obama.

“My daughter is a survivor, my son was also in the school,” said Charles Calderbank.  “This was our lotto,” he said, feeling fortunate.

He credits the survival of his 9-year-old daughter to her schoolteacher Kaitlin Roig, first responders, and other school employees.

“She was sweet. We love her, she cared about students immensely,” he said about victim, Principle Dawn Hocksprung. “In the line of fire, they protected our babies.”

But sympathy and compassion spread far beyond Newtown High School.  For miles, the town has been covered in memorials.  In the center of town a giant Christmas tree collected countless toys, prayers, and visitors throughout the day.

“Coming together to be close to the people who need (it),” said Leah Shipchack, Milford resident.

The 21-year-old attended the vigil with her aunt and cousins.  Burning candle in hand, Shipchack was one of hundreds of people huddled outside out Newtown High School during the ceremony; the school had filled up hours prior to the event.  It was important to Shipchack to be there for her community.

Signs were randomly placed throughout Newtown as well as displayed in the windows of local business.  Little wooden angels, one for each victim, also occupied a space nearby.  A construction vest hung on one of the angels while teddy bears and flowers surrounded the others.

“There’s only one thing we can be sure of and that is the love that we have,” said President Obama.  He concluded by reading aloud the names of each victim.

“You remind us what matters, and that’s what should drive us forward in everything that we do.”