January 12th, 2011
09:35 PM ET
3 years ago

Live blogging President Obama’s memorial address

A memorial service for the victims of the Arizona massacre at the University of Arizona at Tucson.

Read the full remarks here.

5:53 p.m. MT - The arena in Tucson, AZ is filling up. When the doctors arrive, the crowd claps and cheers. People are starting to take the seats behind the stage. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain receive cheers when their pictures flash on the scoreboard.

5:56 p.m. MT - The university has opened up the football stadium for the overflow crowd. People started lining up at about 6:30 a.m. to get into the event. Many people have brought children.

6:01 p.m. MT - President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have arrived at the memorial service at the University of Arizona at Tucson. They receive a standing ovation from the crowd.

6:10 p.m. MT - President Obama is sitting next to intern Daniel Hernandez, who is credited with saving Giffords' life. Rep. Giffords' husband, Mark E. Kelly, is seated next to Michelle Obama.

6:25 p.m. MT – University of Arizona officials say that the 14,000-seat arena is mostly filled and 13,000 people are in an overflow area in the football stadium.

6:25 p.m. MT - People attending the service told CNN earlier why they were there:

“I think it's important because the people in Tucson are close right now. It's a close community because we're all thinking in the same spirit, about these people, But more than that, I think it's going to be a closing for all these people who need some special words from the president. I think it's going to be very soothing for everyone - It's more like a healing for everyone that needs that.”

– Liz Orosco

"I walked into a Walgreens with my 9-year-old daughter and she saw the newspaper there and the shooter's photo was there and she said ‘Mom, that's really scary.’ And I said, ‘It is,’ and she said ‘Can we go to this event? Can we go see the president?’ and I said, ‘You know, I think that that's really something’ so I took all three of my daughters out of school because over the weekend they watched the events unfold and there were a lot of emotions in my house, and I guess realizing I could bring them to this and they could have a positive ending to a very upsetting weekend.”

– Robin Fox

6:28 p.m. MT – University of Arizona President Robert Shelton introduces Daniel Hernandez, who is a UA student. Hernandez receives a long standing ovation before speaking.

Hernandez says of the tragedy to the audience: “We all became Tucsonans; we all became Arizonans, we all became Americans.”

He also says, “I must humbly reject the term hero” and calls out those he considers heroes: Giffords, her aides who were killed or injured and the doctors who worked around the clock to help treat the victims. The audience gives the doctors a standing ovation.

He closes by saying, “I must reject the title ‘hero.’”

6:29 p.m. MT - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer takes the stage. "We will remember how to smile again," Brewer says. "We will go forward together."

6:36 p.m. MT - Secretary of Homeland Security and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano reads from the book of Isaiah.

6:40 p.m. MT - Attorney General Eric Holder reads from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

6:45 p.m. MT – President Obama takes the stage: "I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow."

6:46 p.m. MT - Obama is trying to keep the tone somber and serious against the cheers from the crowd.

6:54 p.m. MT – Obama eulogizes the six victims of Saturday's shootings.

6:55 p.m. MT - President Obama says after he visited Rep. Giffords, she opened her eyes for the first time since arriving in the hospital. A teary-eyed Michelle Obama holds Mark Kelly's hand and then hugs him.

7:00 p.m. MT - President Obama expresses his gratitude for those that saved others- those who tackled the gunman, "wrestled away the killer's ammunition" and "worked wonders to heal those who'd been hurt."

7:05 p.m. MT – President Obama: "Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together."

7:11 p.m. MT - President Obama: "If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle."

7:12 p.m. MT - President Obama: "And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, it did not, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation, in a way that would make them proud."

7:16 p.m. MT - The crowd rises to their feet when President Obama speaks of Christina Taylor Green, one of the victims. "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations," Obama says. She was nine years old, born on September 11, 2001.

7:21 p.m. MT - Those in the memorial service observe a moment of silence followed by a performance of Aaron Copland's "Simple Gifts" performed by The Arizona Choir and the University of Arizona Symphony Orchestra.


Filed under: Arizona • Gabrielle Giffords • President Obama
Obama headlines memorial for victims of Saturday's shooting
January 12th, 2011
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3 years ago

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(CNN) – President Barack Obama sought Wednesday night to console those touched by Saturday's Arizona shooting while warning the nation against trying to politicize the tragedy, speaking at a memorial event in Tucson.

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Filed under: President Obama
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Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords • Gun rights
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Filed under: Arizona • Gabrielle Giffords • Michelle Obama • President Obama
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05:26 PM ET
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Filed under: 2012 • Haley Barbour • Nikki Haley • South Carolina
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January 12th, 2011
04:54 PM ET
3 years ago

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Filed under: Congress
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January 12th, 2011
04:49 PM ET
3 years ago

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Filed under: Joe Wilson
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02:56 PM ET
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Filed under: Rick Santorum • South Carolina
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02:47 PM ET
3 years ago

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Washington (CNN) - Congress has responded to the Saturday shootings of 19 people, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, with a "collective embrace" rather than a "torrent of accusations," House Speaker John Boehner said at a bipartisan congressional prayer service Wednesday.

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Filed under: Arizona • Congress • Gabrielle Giffords • John Boehner
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