WASHINGTON - Hundreds solemnly gathered in Washington's National Cathedral on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the Newtown school massacre and demand tougher action to halt gun violence in the United States.
Pop icon Carole King performed her 1977 song "In the Name of Love" on the piano at the late-afternoon vigil, which organizers hoped would pull the media spotlight away from the New England town where 20 first-grade pupils and six educators were killed.
Poignantly, the event also heard a violin and piano rendition of "Imagine" by John Lennon, shot and killed in New York 33 years ago this month.
"We gather to say, 'No more'," said Reverend Mel Kawakami of the Newtown United Methodist Church, as the predominantly older gathering lit candles, sang hymns and shared stories of other incidents of gun violence.
Reverend Gary Hall, dean of the Episcopal cathedral, called on the nation's elected leaders "to find the moral courage and the political will" to enact tougher gun laws.
In the 12 months since Newtown, Hall said, some 32,000 people have died in the United States in gun-related incidents.
Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza used an military-style Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle during his December 14, 2012 shooting spree in the classrooms and hallways of Sandy Hook school, before putting a bullet in his head as police rushed to the scene.
Lanza had earlier shot and killed his mother, who owned the guns he used, in her bed at home as a prelude to the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in the United States after the Virgina Tech massacre in 2007 in which 33 died, including the lone gunman.
Newtown's civic leaders have urged reporters to stay away from their picturesque and affluent community two hours' drive from New York to enable it to mourn the victims and comfort each other in peace.