President Obama leads memorial service in TucsonPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- All eyes were on Tucson Wednesday night as President Barack Obama led a memorial service for the victims of Saturday's shooting.
Before President Obama took the podium, we heard remarks from University president Robert Shelton, two University of Arizona students, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Attorney General Eric Holder. They said the ceremony can begin the process of healing.
"Tonight we have gathered here as a community to mourn a tragic and senseless act. We are here to try in a small way to bring comfort to those how's lives have been forever changed by an act so heinous it is incomprehensible to try and understand," said University President Robert Shelton.
The sentiment of beginning the healing was echoed by all the speakers.
"One thing we have learned from this great tragedy. On Saturday we all became Tucsonans. We became Arizonans. And we all became Americans," said Giffords' intern Daniel Hernandez.
"Saturday's gunfire didn't just take five lives, it pieced out sense of well being. It raised question of which we can make no sense. That will not come anytime soon," said Gov. Jan Brewer.
"We know that the violence that occurred Saturday does not represent this city this state or this country," said Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Thirteen thousand people packed the McKale center, another thirteen thousand in Arizona stadium for overflow seating.
The President took the podium with a message of support to the victims and attempted to lift the spirits of Tucsonans, and all Americans, personally affected by the tragedy.
Welcomed with "Fanfare for the Common Man" and seated next to congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, President Obama came to Tucson to start the healing.
"There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this, the hopes of the nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief and we add our faith to yours that Gabby and other living victims will pull through," said President Obama.
Obama brought the crowd to tears while talking about the six deceased victims. How they lived, and how they died.
"His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers," said The President.
And the president brought them to their feet, with the very latest update on the condition of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
"I've just come from University Medical Center where gabby fights to recover. I want to tell you, her husband mark allows me to share, right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time," said President Obama amid thundering applause. "Gabby opened her eyes. Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you, she knows we are here, and she knows we are rooting for her."
The President stayed away from politics. And in fact, reeled back those who've used the tragedy to rail against political discourse in the country.
"At a time when we are far to eager to lay the blame all the problems on those who happen to think different than we do, it's important to pause and make sure we talk to each other in a way that heals. Not in a way that wounds," said Obama.
As Tucson, Arizona, and the united states move forward from the tragedy, Obama told everyone listening to make sure the reflection and the debate is worthy of those we have lost.
"May God bless and keep those we lost, watch over survivors and bless the united states of America," concluded President Obama.
Following Obama's speech, U of A President Robert Shelton asked everyone to join in a moment of silence.