A Painting Hangs in the President’s Study

Photograph by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden before signing an executive order designed to tackle gun control, on Jan. 16, 2012 in Washington.

A painting hangs in the president’s private study adjoining the Oval Office.

It was made by Grace McDonald, who was 7 and one of 20 first-grade children gunned down at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school.

President Barack Obama told the story of how it got there, and what he sees in it, as he announced an agenda of executive orders and legislative initiatives aimed at curbing gun violence today.

“When I visited Newtown last month, I spent some private time with many of the families who lost their children that day,” Obama said. “One was the family of Grace McDonald. ”

The girl’s parents joined the president in Washington today at an executive office annex on the White House grounds, along with gun control advocates and children who had written to the White House since the Newtown shootings, as Obama unveiled the actions and proposals that Vice President Joe Biden has assembled in the month since the massacre.

“Grace was seven years old when she was struck down — just a gorgeous, caring, joyful little girl,” Obama said. “I’m told she loved pink. She loved the beach.  She dreamed of becoming a painter.”

“Just before I left (Newtown), Chris, her father, gave me one of her paintings, and I hung it in my private study just off the Oval Office,” he said. “And every time I look at that painting, I think about Grace.  And I think about the life that she lived and the life that lay ahead of her, and most of all, I think about how, when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now — for Grace.”

“For the 25 other innocent children and devoted educators who had so much left to give. For the men and women in big cities and small towns who fall victim to senseless violence each and every day.  For all the Americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm,” said the president, advancing the most ambitious gun control agenda in decades. “Let’s do the right thing.”

These were his closing words before signing 23 executive orders.

And dispatching a passel of legislative ideas to Congress.

Where no art of the late Grace McDonald is on display.

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