Funerals begin for US shooting victims as schools confront tragedy
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The small Connecticut town shattered by an act President Barack Obama called "unconscionable evil," holds on Monday the first two of 20 funerals for schoolchildren massacred in their classrooms last week.
Meanwhile, schools across the country will reopen their doors to confused and scared children full of questions about why the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting happened – and whether they are safe from the very same danger.
Obama, addressing an interfaith vigil in Newtown on Sunday night, spoke forcefully on the country's failings in protecting its children and demanded changes in response to the mass shootings of the last few months.
"We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change," he said, adding that he would bring together law enforcement, teachers, mental health professionals and others to study how to best stop the violence.
But before those changes, the families of the victims will grieve. Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto will be laid to rest Monday afternoon.
Noah, 6 years old just last month, was the youngest victim. Reports describe him as "inquisitive" and as particularly mature for his age. The family's rabbi has said he encouraged Noah's mother to focus on her other four children amid the grief.
Jack, also 6, was a wrestler who loved sports. The New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz played Sunday's football game with the boy's name written all over his cleats and gloves.
All the dead children were 6 and 7 years old. The school principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school psychologist and four teachers were also gunned down. The victims were remembered Sunday night at a memorial of just over an hour whose featured speaker offered words of hope and promises of action to stop any further tragedies.
"We bear responsibility for every child... This is our first task, caring for our children. It's our first job. If we don't get that right, we don't get anything right," Obama said.