Obama Urges a National Dialogue of Healing at Arizona Memorial Service
Saying he wants to live up to the dreams of a 9-year-old girl who perished in a Tucson parking lot last weekend, President Obama on Wednesday urged Americans to temper the political discourse now polarizing the public square.
In honoring the heroes and victims of a mass shooting that left six dead and 14 injured, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the president directly addressed the ensuing national debate about rhetorical vitriol by pleading with Americans not to “use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another.”
“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 a way that wounds,” he said during a 34-minute speech to a capacity crowd at the University of Arizona’s sports arena, the McKale Memorial Center.
Nearly 30,000 people gathered, indoors and outdoors, for the nighttime service in honor of the victims in Saturday’s mass shooting, which shook the nation. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, is being held without bail on charges he opened fire at a Tucson grocery store where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was having a town-hall style event.