Francine Wheeler gave the Weekly Address from The White House on Saturday, April 13, one day before the four-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings.
“Hi,” she began. “As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not the President. I’m just a citizen. And as a citizen, I’m here at the White House today because I want to make a difference and I hope you will join me.
“My name is Francine Wheeler. My husband David is with me. We live in Sandy Hook, Connecticut,” Mrs Wheeler said.
Mrs Wheeler and her husband, David, lost their son Ben, 6, on 12/14. They have another son, Nate.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced the President’s decision to have Mrs Wheeler offer comments on April 13 during that afternoon’s press briefing.
“The President has asked Francine Wheeler... to speak to the American people in this week's Weekly Address,” he said.
Mrs Wheeler issued the following statement:
“I am honored that the President asked me to give the Radio Address [Saturday]. We were grateful this week to be able to speak directly to Senators about our children and our hopes that no other parent should have to experience our grief. I am equally grateful today to speak directly to the American people about the common sense solutions that are currently under debate.”
Mrs Wheeler may be the first citizen during the Obama Administration to deliver the Presidential Radio Address.
Mr and Mrs Wheeler have been in Washington, DC, since Monday, April 8, when they flew to the nation’s capitol following remarks by the President at the University of Hartford. The Wheelers were among a number of Sandy Hook families and relatives of those killed on 12/14 who traveled on Air Force One in order to be on Capitol Hill by Tuesday to make 11th-hour pitches to try to rescue gun-control legislation that was in limbo in the Senate.
“I’ve heard people say that the tidal wave of anguish our country felt on 12/14 has receded,” Mrs Wheeler said during the Weekly Address. “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… Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.”
The President has tried to offer a weekly video address every Saturday of his Presidency, according to WhiteHouse.gov. While few radio stations continue to air the addresses on a regular basis, the addresses are made available on The White House website.