President Obama spoke at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday, four days after a gunman opened fire at a Safeway shopping center, killing six, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and wounding 13, most notably, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
He visited Rep. Giffords prior to his speech and reported to the nation that just after he left, she opened her eyes repeatedly, the first time that she’s done so since undergoing surgery to repair the damage left by the bullet that pierced through her brain.
“I can tell you this – she knows we’re here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey,” President Obama said
Mrs. Obama openly wept during the speech and held the hand of the Democratic congresswoman’s husband, U.S. astronaut Mark Kelly.
The headlines since Saturday have spoken to the trauma the nation feels about the incident, which happened during a routine “Congress On Your Corner” event in which Giffords made herself available to meet her constituents.
The media has started pointing fingers in the past few days, looking for someone other than the gunman to blame for the horrific attack. The Tea Party, and Sarah Palin are being directly and indirectly blamed, with Palin’s now-infamous election crosshairs map on which Giffords was included being shown repeatedly on TV, in newspapers and online. But the president is asking for the partisanship to end and for the divided country to come together, adding that no one knows the motives of the gunman at this point.
“For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack,” he said. “None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.”
The president also urged the nation to “honor the fallen” by getting past this and “making sure we align our values with our actions.”
“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds,” the president said.
“What we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another,” he said. “That we cannot do. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility.”
President Obama also specifically referenced the youngest victim of the shootings, Christina Taylor Green.
“I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it,” he said. “If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.”
Source: The New York Times