An emotional President Obama told the nation Friday that “our hearts are broken today” after a mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn., killed 27 people, the majority of them children.

“They had their entire lives ahead of them,” Obama said, pausing to stifle a catch in his voice as he recounted the deaths and wipe tears from his face. “Birthdays, weddings, kids of their own.”

Obama cited Scripture to call for healing, and said “we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” He called the shooting a “heinous crime” against “beautiful little kids.”

“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years, and each time I hear the news I react not as a president but as anyone else would, as a parent,” Obama said. “And that was especially true today.”

As Obama spoke, several of his aides looked on, weeping as he spoke.   

“I know there isn’t a parent in America who doesn’t feel the overwhelming sense of grief that I do,” Obama said.

Live blog: Updates on the Newtown school shooting