Mourner pays his respects at one of the makeshift memorials for the Sandy Hook elementary shooting, Newtown, Connecticut
By Yamiche Alcindor
A year after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn., bells tolled across the town at 9:30 a.m. Saturday as the small community planned a day of quiet reflection with private memorial services.
The bells rang 26 times as names of each of the victims were read at St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, one of several houses of worship that was holding private services Saturday for a community still grieving for the 20 children and six educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
President Obama and the first lady marked the anniversary of the shooting at the White House Saturday by lighting 26 candles and bowing their heads for a moment of silence.
In his weekly address, Obama asked Americans to consider their role in preventing future violence, saying the country has not done enough to make communities safer since the tragedy. Parents of children killed in the tragedy lent their voices to efforts to prevent such violence from happening again but more action is needed to stop violence, he said.
"We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily," Obama said. "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."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked for houses of worship around the state to ring their bells at 9:30 a.m. and called for flags to be lowered to half-staff around the state.
St. Rose of Lima will host a service that 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.
Newtown officials have called for privacy and asked town residents to honor the victims through acts of service and kindness. At a joint appearance earlier this 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 Saturday, 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.
Contributing: Associated Press