Oklahomans will "rise again" and will have the nation behind them as they struggle to bounce back from tornadoes that tore through the state last week, officials said Sunday, a day of quiet reflection and prayer.
"As fellow Americans, we're going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore who have been impacted," said President Barack Obama. "And when we say that we've got your back, I promise you that we keep our word."
The president described himself as a messenger speaking on behalf of the entire nation as he toured storm damage Sunday. He praised local officials, first responders and school principals for their work in the wake of the storms, which killed 24 people, injured more than 375 others and damaged 12,000 residences in and around the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
"This area's known more than its share of heartbreak, but people here pride themselves on the Oklahoma standard ... being able to work through disasters like this and come out stronger on the other side," he said.
Speaking in front of the wreckage of the destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Obama called for Americans to donate to help storm relief efforts.
"It's going to take a long time for this community to rebuild, so I want to urge every American to step up," he said, suggesting donating via the American Red Cross website.
After his public remarks, Obama met with first responders at a Moore fire station.
"We got to talk to him after he saw the damage, and of course, once you see the damage, it's different," Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis told CNN affiliate KOCO. "No matter how many pictures you look at, you see it in person, it's going to to change even the president, which it did."
Obama vowed to keep helping the area rebuild, long after camera crews and reporters from around the country leave.
"He ... let us know that after all the media and everything is gone, he'll still be sending anything that we need," Lewis said, "and he'll make sure that we get the town built back up."
It's been a weekend of highs and lows for the tornado-ravaged area.
With some school buildings still in shambles, students received diplomas at a convention center on Saturday.
Funeral homes and churches were busy with services nearly a week after the devastating storm.
A public memorial and prayer service was held Sunday evening at the First Baptist Church in Moore, where tissues were laid out in the pews.
"Our spirits have been shaken this week," Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said at the service.
"Our hearts have been broken, but our resolve is strong and we will rise again. In the midst of human tragedy, we've seen the best of Oklahoma come forth."
Fallin held up two items she found in the wreckage of a school -- a note from a student, and a poster with classroom rules, imploring children to always do their very best.
She welcomed a teacher and a group of students from Briarwood Elementary. The school was destroyed by the tornado, but everyone survived.
Holding flowers, the students sang "Jesus Loves Me," a song some of them were singing as the storm blasted their school.
"I think it was probably the start of healing for the community," Debby Goss, a Shawnee, Oklahoma, resident, said about the prayer service.