Howard Simmons/NY Daily News/Getty
Stephen M. Silverman
December 21, 2012 09:00 AM

As another day of painful funerals is scheduled to take place on Friday, seven days after the tragedy that took the lives of 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., First Lady Michelle Obama is telling the community there that the entire nation is “holding you in our hearts.”

“As a mother of two young daughters, my heart aches for you and your families. Like so many Americans, I wish there were something – anything – I could do or say to ease your anguish,” Mrs. Obama states in an open letter published in Friday’s Hartford Courant.

While saying that she “cannot begin to imagine the depths of your grief,” the First Lady goes on to write, “Over the past week, I have been awed and inspired by Newtown’s heroes: the first responders who risked their lives at a moment’s notice; the educators whose devotion to their students shone brightest in one of our nation’s darkest hours; the children who comforted each other despite their fear; the families coming together to support each other as they grieve. And I am so proud of the outpouring of love and support that has come from every corner of America.”

PHOTOS: Newtown Shooting Victims: Their Photos, Their Lives

Friday Day of Mourning for Newtown

That love and support continue to be shown. On Friday at 9:30 E.T., heeding a call from Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a national moment of silence is being held, with church bells scheduled to toll 26 times. Among the many state governors to issue a proclamation in response to Malloy’s request was Texas’s Rick Perry, who said in a statement, “This is an opportunity to join together in the spirit of healing, and in honor of those who were lost.”

In Ogden, Utah, Thursday night, an estimated 1,000 people gathered at a high school pay tribute to the fallen of Sandy Hook, including 6-year-old Emilie Parker, who had recently moved from Ogden to Newtown.

First Lady Michelle Obama
Mark Wilson/Getty

To conclude the ceremony, 26 lanterns were released into the air. Emilie’s father, Robbie Parker, released the final one for his daughter – a pink lantern, Emilie’s favorite color.

“As we come here and start to see and feel all your love, we know everyone is deeply concerned, and we know it’s from a pure place,” he said.

As she wrote from the White House, Mrs. Obama said, “In the months and years ahead, may the memories of those beautiful children and those heroic adults be a blessing for their families, for your community, and for our country, and may God bless you all.”

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