"They're all our children"

I thought President Obama gave a most moving and appropriate, if terribly sad, address last evening at the Prayer Service in Newtown. Here is a part of his remarks:

But we, as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around. With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves -- our child -- is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice. And every parent knows there is nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet, we also know that with that childs very first step, and each step after that, they are separating from us; that we wont -- that we cant always be there for them. Theyll suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments. And we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.And we know we cant do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you cant do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because were counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that were all parents; that theyre all our children.

And in the most poignant moment of a poignant address he said:

Let the little children come to me, Jesus said, and do not hinder them -- for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison.God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a longtime Commonweal contributor.

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