President Barack Obama's heartfelt speech at the Newtown memorial service was more than just a touching tribute to 26 innocent victims: it was a subtle call to action for our nation's politicians, activists and citizens, alike. Though the word "gun" was never uttered, the message was clear: we've been failing our children and ourselves and we must now refuse to endure another tragedy.
Among the condolences to the victim's families, President Obama told the audience, "we are left with some hard questions." He asked if we can truly say that we're all doing enough to keep our children safe from harm and after reflecting, answered "no."
Then came the shift in tone which marked the president's strengthened resolve to fix our nation: "No," he said, "We're not doing enough. And we will have to change."
"We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change."
President Obama has always been known for his brilliant rhetoric and now, that gift is being put to use. Never crossing the line between heartfelt memorial speech and political campaigning, the president still made his intent clear: "Surely, we can do better than this."
Amidst cries from Republican politicians that the absence of God in schools brought us what we deserve and that more guns are the answer, the president's speech painted a hopeful vision for a better future.
"In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine."
The president is right: we can't accept tragedies like this anymore. The first step is to get off the side lines and become activists ourselves, demanding the bright future our children deserve and not stopping until we get it. President Barack Obama's memorial speech was a brilliant move in beginning the national political conversation about how we can do better. Because, in fact, we can - and must - do better.
The speech ended with a softened tone but reinforced the message of change: "For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worth of their memory." As it stands, our country, where it's easier to obtain a gun than access mental health, isn't worthy of the victims' memory and it's up to us to make it so.