President Obama Seeks to Comfort Americans After Tragedy in Tucson


Giffords' office issued a statement in response: "The outpouring of support from the people of Arizona and Americans across the country has been truly moving. We appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. The resolution before the House today was a further reflection of the best of America -- one after another, members came to the floor, without party labels, in support of those impacted by this tragedy. They honored the fallen, those recovering, and the heroes who responded quickly to save lives. ... Even during the darkest times, our nation's capacity for kindness and fellowship reminds us of the best in people. To everyone who has expressed well wishes, we offer our most heartfelt thanks."

The outpouring of support in Tucson tonight was evident as thousands waited in line, some sleeping on the ground overnight, to enter the McKale Memorial Center this afternoon. The university set up an area to handle the overflow of students and other attendees who camped out on the sidewalk under the desert sun.

The Program: 'Together We Thrive: Tucson and America'

The hour-long memorial this evening was thrown together quickly as a way to gather and mourn. A Native American blessing opened the program followed by a welcome speech from University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton and, of course, the playing of the National Anthem.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and two student speakers from the university, student body president Emily Fritze and David Hernandez, also made remarks.

Napolitano, who formerly was Arizona's governor, and Attorney General Eric Holder both spoke. Napolitano quoted from the book of Isaiah, and Holder read from the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy represented the judicial branch in the audience, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Reps. Paul Gosar, Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, Ben Quayle and Dave Schweikert represented the legislative.

The memorial service concluded with the signing of the hymn "Come Thou Fount."

What Tucson Wanted to Hear

The feeling in Tucson was a bit divided about what the president would and should say. All agreed the president's message should be one of unity and healing focused on the victims of the tragedy.

"I believe that the president should maybe focus more on the families and the healing aspect of what happened -- the tragedy," said Lisa Engelberg, a 30-year resident of Tucson.

Engelberg added that as the community heals, there should not be politics in the president's message tonight.

"I think today might need to be about those who were the victims of the shootings and their families and not so much the politics," she said.

Seth Landy, a resident of Tucson, said the community just needed some "guiding words" -- but confessed that at some point politics is going to have to be part of the discussion.

"I do think it's important that the president talk about the victims and the families, you know, but eventually the politics are going to have to come into it," Landy said. "I think that gun control needs to come up tonight, I really do, you know, because so many people are talking about this."

Rishelle Baines, a student at the University of Arizona, said the politics of the shooting is a part of the president's message -- but it shouldn't be the emphasis.

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