Washington: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle lit 26 candles and observed a moment of silence on Saturday in honour of the victims of last year`s shooting at an elementary school.
Exactly one year ago, on December 14, 2012, a heavily armed man, later identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered the school in Newtown, Connecticut and opened fire with devastating effect.
In 10 minutes he killed 20 first graders and six teachers and staff before taking his own life. He had also shot his mother dead earlier that morning.
The senseless slaughter of young children at the hands of a mentally disturbed individual shocked America like no other mass shooting in years, but despite public condemnation it did not culminate in new US gun laws.
Wearing black, the Obamas somberly lit candles for each of the victims at the Sandy Hook elementary school in the White House map room. They stood silently together for several moments and then walked out without making any remarks.
There was no public memorial planned in Newtown and the media has been asked to grant privacy to residents to mark the anniversary.
Earlier this week, the city`s top official, Pat Llodra, asked for the still grieving families be given "the time to be alone and quiet, with time for personal and communal reflection."
The president also used his weekly radio address to mark the anniversary, urging Americans to press for gun law changes to prevent similar tragedies.
"One year ago today, a quiet, peaceful town was shattered by unspeakable violence," Obama said.
"We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily. We have to do more to heal troubled minds.
"We have to do everything we can to protect our children from harm and make them feel loved, and valued, and cared for."
The Newtown massacre provoked a push for gun control laws and a handful of states have since tightened rules.
But the nationwide measures the president supported failed in the US Senate in April, due to fierce opposition from gun rights supporters and a lack of support in both houses of Congress.