‘SNL’ tugs at our heartstrings as Jason Aldean honors Las Vegas shooting victims and Tom Petty [WATCH]

“This week, we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history,” declared Jason Aldean at the top of “Saturday Night Live’s” cold open, honoring the victims who died in the Las Vegas shooting on October 1 (watch above). In lieu of a normal political sketch starring recent Emmy winner Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump, “SNL” took an emotional approach to its pre-credits sequence this week. Reminiscent of when Kate McKinnon‘s Hillary Clinton sang “Hallelujah” as a tribute to the late Leonard Cohen, Aldean soon launched into a cover of “I Won’t Back Down” to honor Tom Petty, who passed away October 2.

Aldean continued, “Like everyone, I’m struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal. So many people are hurting. There are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, they’re all part of our family. So I want to say to them: We hurt for you, and we hurt with you. But you can be sure that we’re gonna walk through these tough times together, every step of the way. Because when America is at its best, our bond and our spirit, it’s unbreakable.”

On the evening of October 1, Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas strip when a gunman opened fire from his room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500. Soon after the massacre Aldean expressed his feelings on Twitter, but this October 7 “SNL” performance is no doubt the biggest audience he’s had to share his anger, frustration and confusion over the incident.

“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot was the host for this second episode of NBC’s 43rd season of “Saturday Night Live,” while Sam Smith was the musical guest.

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