President Obama spoke at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. tonight about the tragic shooting that left 6 dead and 14 wounded over the weekend.
People lined up early this morning on the University of Arizona campus to get into the memorial event. At the time of the speech the arena was full to capacity with 14,000 in attendance and an additional screen was set up at the nearby Arizona Football Stadium to accommodate overflow. Attendants were heavily screened before being able to enter the arena.
After brief remarks by UA President Robert Shelton, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder and Daniel Hernandez, the intern who saved Giffords life by stopping blood flow immediately after she was shot in the head, President Obama took the stage.
“I have come here as an American, who like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow,” Obama said in his opening remarks. “Our hearts are broken by their recent passing.”
Obama re-enforced the First Amendment, expressing that those meeting with Giffords last Saturday were simply exercising their right to free speech by peacefully assembling to express concerns to their Congresswoman. He dedicated time in his remarks to each of the six people killed that day while highlighting each of the heros who subdued Jared Loughner before reloading and the hope that comes with Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery.
“Their actions, their selflessness poses a challenge to each of us,” Obama said. “How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?”
Overall, Obama was Presidential and kept the focus on the events that took place, honoring the victims, their families and the community, avoiding the political blame game and finger pointing.
“The truth is, none of us can know what triggered this vicious attack,” Obama said. “What we cannot do, is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other.”
Obama also revealed Giffords opened her eyes for the first time since she entered the hospital Saturday just before the memorial service.
"She knows that we are rooting for her."