This morning, Francine Wheeler and her husband, David — the parents of 6-year-old Newtown victim Ben — replaced President Obama for the White House's weekly Saturday address. Barely holding back tears, Francine recalled Ben's love of school and his dream of being both an architect and a paleontologist. And, on the day before the four-month anniversary of the massacre, she reminded the country of just what has happened since:
“I’ve heard people say that the tidal wave of anguish our country felt on 12/14 has receded. But not for us. To us, it feels as if it happened just yesterday. And in the four months since we lost our loved ones, thousands of other Americans have died at the end of a gun. Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief.”
The substantive demand resulting from Wheeler's trauma is clear. "We have to convince the Senate to come together and pass common sense gun responsibility reforms," said the grieving mother, after regaining her composure. "That will make our communities safer and prevent the tragedies that we never thought would happen to us ... Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy."
The decision to have the Wheelers appear Obama's place is the latest in an emotional push by the President to pressure Congress to act on gun control. In Hartford, Connecticut on Monday, several Sandy Hook families watched as Obama delivered an impassioned speech urging Congress to honor the victims of Newtown by passing new legislation. Afterward, he and the families boarded Air Force One for a ride back to Washington D.C., where a Republican filibuster of a debate of the Democrats' gun control passage was finally coming to a close with a vote of 68-31 to move forward. Of course, now the President needs most of the senators who voted to allow discussion of the bill to vote to actually pass it, which is why Wheeler wrapped up her address by asking listeners to call their senators and "help this be the moment when real change begins."