The bells rang 26 times at St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown beginning at 9:30 a.m. — the moment the gunman shot his way into the school on Dec. 14, 2012 — and names of the victims were read over a loudspeaker. Connecticut's governor had asked for bells to ring across Connecticut and directed that flags be lowered to half-staff.
In Washington, the president and first lady Michelle Obama lit 26 votive candles set up on a table in the White House Map Room — one each for the 20 children and six educators.
In his weekly radio address released hours earlier, Obama said the nation hasn't done enough to make its communities safer by keeping dangerous people from getting guns and healing troubled minds. Gun restrictions backed by the president in response to the shooting faced stiff opposition and ultimately stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
"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," Obama said.
Anniversary observances were held around the country, including in Tucson, Ariz., where about 100 people gathered as former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband planted a yellow rose bush in a memorial garden created after the 2011 shooting that nearly killed her. Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, said it is important to pause and support families of the Newtown victims.