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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 12, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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these men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle, they remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. heroism is here in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens all around us just waiting to be summoned as it was on saturday morning. their actions, their
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selflessness poses a challenge to each of us. it raises the question of what beyond prayers and expressions of concern is required of us going forward. how can we honor the fallen? how can we be true to their memory? you see, when a tragedy like this strikes it is part of our nature to demand explanations, to try to impose some order on the chaos and make sense out of that which seems senseless. already we've seen the national conversation commence not only about the motivations behind
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these killings but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health system. and much of this process of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government. but at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarizeed 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 happen to think differently than we do, it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're
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talking with each other in a way that heals. not in a way that wounds. (cheers and applause) scripture tells us that there is evil in the world. and the terrible things happened for reasons that defy human understanding. in the words of job, when i looked for light then came dark bad things happen and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath for the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack.
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none of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind. yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy we cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. we should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. (applause) but what we cannot do subpoena use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. (cheers and applause)
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that we cannot do. (cheers and applause) that we cannot do. as we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame. let's 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. (applause) after all that's what most of us
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do when we lose somebody in our family, especially if the loss is unexpected. we're shaken out of our routines. we're forced to look inward. we reflect on the past that we spend enough time with an aging parent we wonder. did we express our gratitude for the sacrifices they made for us? did we tell a spouse just how desperately we love them? not just once in a while but every single day. so some loss causes us to look backward, but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on
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the presence and the future. on the manner which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. (applause) we may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. perhaps we question whether we're doing right by our children or our community, whether our priorities are in order. we recognize our own mortality and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth what matters is not wealth
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or status or power or fame but rather how well we have loved. (cheers and applause) and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better. and that process, that process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our action that i believe is what a tragedy like this requires. for those who were harmed, those who were killed, they are part of our family. an american family 300 million strong. (cheers and applause)
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we may not have known them personally but surely we see ourselves in them. in george and dot and dorwin and mavy we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. phyllis, she's our mom or our grand mom. gabe our brother or son. (applause) in judge roll we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well but also a man who embodied america's fidelity to the law. and in gabby... in gabby we see
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a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating sometimes contentious but always necessary and never ending process to form a more perfect union. (cheers and applause) and in christina, in christina we see all of our children. so curious, so trusting, so energetic, so full of magic, so deserving of our love, and so deserving of our good example.
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if this tragedy prompts reflection and debate-- as it should-- let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. (applause) let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle. the loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better, to be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents and if as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in
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more civility in our public discourse let us remember 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. (cheers and applause)
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we should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like john roll and gabby giffords who knew first and foremost that we are all americans and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concerns. that we bequeath the american dream to future generations. (applause) they believed and i believe that we can be better. those who died here, those who saved lives here, they help me believe. we may not be able to stop all evil in the world but i know
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that how we treat one another, that's entirely up to us. (applause) and i believe that for all our imperfections we are full of decency and goodness and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us. (applause) that's what i believe. in part because that's what a child like christina taylor green believed. (applause) imagine for a moment here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy. just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship.
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just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she, too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. she had been elected to her student council. she saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. she was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. she saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted. i want to live up to her expectations. (cheers and applause) i want our democracy to be as good as christina imagined it. i would america to be as good as
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she imagined it. all of us, we should do everything we can do to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations! (cheers and applause) (cheers and applause)
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as has already been mentioned, christina was given to us on september 11, 2001. one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "faces of hope." on either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. i hope you help those in need read one. "i hope you know all the words to the national anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart." "i hope you jump in rain puddles if there are rain puddless in heaven, christina is jumping in them today.
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(applause) and here on this earth, here on this earth we place our hands over our hearts and we commit ourselves as americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit. may god bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace. may he love and watch over the survivors and may he bless the united states of america. (cheers and applause) >> lehrer: and this concludes our live coverage of tonight's memorial service. but we'll be back in a moment on
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many of these same stations for commentary and analysis of the president's remarks. gwen ifill and judy woodruff will be handling that. for now, i'm jim lehrer. thank you. >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. you're watching "pbs newshour" special coverage of the tucson memorial. a short time ago, thousands of mourners filled the university of arizona's mckale center to hear president obama and others pay tribute to the victims of last weekend's shooting spree. in a moment, we'll bring you extended excerpts of that memorial service, including the president's entire address. then we'll talk with people around the country who experienced similar nightmares on 9/11 in oklahoma city and at columbine. we'll get insights into how
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other communities are reacting to the tucson shooting from our public broadcasting colleagues. and we'll talk to historians michael beschloss and ellen fitzpatrick on how presidents have risen to these occasions. but first to the ceremony. a capacity crowd of 14,000 people began lining up last night for the chance to share their grief. ray suarez reports. >> suarez: the shootings brought america's best-known citizens to tucson: a retired supreme court justice and daughter of arizona, the president and first lady, cabinet members, congressional leaders, all gathered around gabrielle giffords' husband astronaut and navy captain mark kelly. after the strains of copeland's "fanfare for the common man" ended, a member of the faculty, a native american, opened with a blessing. >> please let us honor the families of those that have passed on, let us honor the families of those who are healing and also let us honor our own families let us remain
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humble. >> suarez: the master of ceremonies was university of arizona president robert shelton. >> among the many heroes this week was one of our students. daniel hernandez, jr. (cheers and applause) >> suarez: hernandez, an intern, was praised for his cool head and quick response to the shooting of his boss, representative gabrielle giffords. >> despite the horrific actions that were taken on saturday where so many were lost, we saw glimmers of hope. these glimmers of hope come from people who are the real heroes. although i appreciate the sentiment, i must humbly reject the use of the word hero, because i am not one. the people that are the heroes are people like pam simon, congresswoman gabrielle giffords gabe zimmerman who unfortunately we lost that day, ron barber, the first responders, and also
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people like dr. rhee who have done an amazing job at making sure that gabby is okay and those who are injured are being treated to the best of our ability. (cheers and applause) we have all come together to realize that what defines us is not the differences, it is that we are all together, we are all a family, we are all americans and we must recognize that the real heroes-- like i mentioned-- are the people who have dedicated their lives to public service whether it's direct care in nursing or being a physician or being a great representative like congresswoman giffords or being a staffer. they are the people who we should be honoring and they are the people that we need to keep in our thoughts and our prayers.
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so i thank you for this opportunity but i say we must reject the title of hero and reserve it for those who deserve it and those who deserve it are the public servants and the first responders and the people who have made sure that they have dedicated their life to taking care of others and with that i thank you all. >> ifill: president obama who visited with some of those wounded in advance addressed the audience in tucson and the nation. here's his speech in its entirety. >> to the families of those we've lost, to all who called them friends, to the students of this university, to the public servants who are gathered here, the people of tucson and the people of arizona. i have come here tonight as an american who, like all americans
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kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow. (cheers and applause) there is nothing i can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. but know this. the hopes of a 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 representative gabrielle giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy will pull through. (applause)
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scripture tells us there's a river whose streams make glad the city of god. the holy place where the most high dwells. god is within her. she will not fall. god will help her at break of day. on saturday morning gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside the supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. (applause)
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they were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy and... envision by our founders. representatives of the people answering questions to their constituents to carry their concerns back to our nation's capital. gabby called it "congress on your corner." just an updated version of "government of and by and for the people." (applause) and that quintessentially american theme, that was the scene that was shattered by a gunman's bullets and the six people who lost their lives on
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saturday, they, too, represented what is best in us. what is best in america. judge john roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. (applause) a graduate of this university and a graduate of this law school. (cheers and applause) judge roll was recommended for the federal bench by john mccain 20 years ago. (applause) appointed by president george h.w. bush and rose to become arizona's chief federal judge. (applause) his colleagues described him as
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the hardest working judge within the ninth circuit. he was on his way back from attending mass-- as he did everyday-- when he decided to stop by and say hi to his representative. john had survived by his loving wife maureen, his three sons and his five beautiful grandchildren (applause) george and dorothy morris-- dot to her friends-- were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. they did everything together: traveling the open road in their r.v., enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. saturday morning they went by the safeway to hear what their
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congresswoman had to say. when gunfire rang out, george-- a former marine-- instinctively tried to shield his wife. (applause) both were shot. dot passed away. a new jersey native, phyllis schneck retired to tucson to beat the snow. but in the summer she would return east where her world revolved around her three children, her seven grandchildren, and two-year-old great granddaughter. a gifted quilter she'd often work under her favorite tree where sometimes she'd sew aprons with the logos of the jets and the giants... (laughter) ... to give out at the church
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where she volunteered. a republican, she took a liking to gabby and wanted to get to know her better. (applause) dorwin and mavy stoddard grew up in tucson together about 70 years ago. they moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed, they found their way back here to, as one of mavy's daughters put it "be boyfriend and girlfriend again." (laughter) when they weren't out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road helping folks in need at the mountain avenue church of christ. a retired construction worker, dorwin spent his spare time fixing up the church along with his dog tux.
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his final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers. (applause) everything-- everything gabe zimmerman did he did with passion. (cheers and applause) but his true passion was helping people. as gabby's outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own. saw to it that seniors got the medicare benefits that they had earned, that veterans got the medals and the care that they deserved. that government was working for ordinary folks. he died doing what he loved:
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talking with people and seeing how he could help. gabe is survived by his parents, ross and emily, his brother ben and his fiance kelly who he planned to marry next year. (applause) and then there is nine-year-old christina taylor green. christina was an a student, she was a dancer, she was a gymnast, she was a swimmer. she decided that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues and as the only girl on her little league team, no one put it past her. (cheers and applause) she showed an appreciation for
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life uncommon for a girl her age. she'd remind her mother "we are so blessed. we have the best life." and she'd pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate. our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. our hearts are broken. and yet our hearts also have reason for fullness. our hearts are full of hope and thanks for 13 americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on saturday. i have just come from the university medical center just a mile from here where our friend gabby courageously fights to
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recover even as we speak. and i want to tell you, her husband mark is here and he allows me to share this with you right after we went to visit a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues from congress were in the room gabby owned her eyes for the first time. (cheers and applause) gabby opened her eyes for the first time. (cheers and applause) gabby opened her eyes. gabby opened her eyes so i can tell you she knows we are here,
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she knows we love her, and she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey. we are there for her. (cheers and applause) our hearts are full of thanks for that good news and our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. we are grateful to daniel hernandez, a volunteer in gabby's office and daniel, i'm sorry, you may deny it, but we've decided you are a hero because you ran to the chaos to minister your boss and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive. (cheers and applause)
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we are grateful to the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. (cheers and applause) they're right over there. (cheers and applause) (cheers and applause)
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we are grateful for petite patricia maish who wrestled away the killer's ammunition and undoubtedly saved some lives. (cheers and applause)
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and we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and first responders who work wonders to heal those who'd been hurt. we are grateful to them. (cheers and applause) so some loss causes us to look backward, but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the presence and the future. on the manner which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. (applause) we may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives.
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perhaps we question whether we're doing right by our children or our community, whether our priorities are in order. we recognize our own mortality and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth what matters is not wealth or status or power or fame but rather how well we have loved. (cheers and applause) and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better. and that process, that process
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of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our action that i believe is what a tragedy like this requires. for those who were harmed, those who were killed, they are part of our family. an american family 300 million strong. (cheers and applause) we may not have known them personally but surely we see ourselves in them. in george and dot and dorwin and mavy we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. phyllis, she's our mom or our grand mom.
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gabe our brother or son. (applause) in judge roll we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well but also a man who embodied america's fidelity to the law. and in gabby... in gabby we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating sometimes contentious but always necessary and never ending process to form a more perfect union. (cheers and applause) and in christina, in christina
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we see all of our children. so curious, so trusting, so energetic, so full of magic, so deserving of our love, and so deserving of our good example. if this tragedy prompts reflection and debate-- as it should-- let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. (applause) let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.
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the loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better, to be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents and if as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse let us remember 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. (cheers and applause)
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we should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like john roll and gabby giffords who knew first and foremost that we are all americans and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concerns. that we bequeath the american dream to future generations. (applause)
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they believed and i believe that we can be better. those who died here, those who saved lives here, they help me believe. we may not be able to stop all evil in the world but i know that how we treat one another, that's entirely up to us. (applause) and i believe that for all our imperfections we are full of decency and goodness and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us. (applause) that's what i believe. in part because that's what a
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child like christina taylor green believed. (applause) imagine for a moment here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy. just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship. just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she, too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. she had been elected to her student council. she saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. she was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. she saw all this through the
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eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted. i want to live up to her expectations. (cheers and applause) 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 do to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations! (cheers and applause)
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(cheers and applause) as has already been mentioned, christina was given to us on september 11, 2001. one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "faces of hope." on either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. i hope you help those in need read one.
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i hope you know all the words to the national anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. i hope you jump in rain puddles if there are rain puddless in heaven, christina is jumping in them today. (applause) and here on this earth, here on this earth we place our hands over our hearts and we commit ourselves as americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit. may god bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace. may he love and watch over the survivors and may he bless the united states of america.
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(cheers and applause) >> ifill: now, some historical perspective on the president's speech and tonight's memorial event. we get that from historians ellen fitzpatrick and michael beschloss. director of the oklahoma city national memorial and exam and reverend janet vincent from the episcopal church in washington. did the president do what what he needed to do tonight, michael? >> it was one of the best speeches he's ever given. not only the message but also the way he sort of came to life while giving it. he was sort of soaking in the atmosphere and you have a sense it was a speech written in advance but it gave the sense of someone who was giving it extemporaneously. >> ifill: ellen fitzpatrick, how did that speech compare to the kind of speeches we've seen presidents give in these situations before? >> i thought that this speech was a particularly personal speech on the president's part
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in which it was a little different, i think, than other speeches. it was intensely personal, evoking the lives of the victims of this tragedy, describing the heroism of everyday americans and the theme of children. this, after all, is a young father. we've seen him with his own children. that was very powerful theme and an effective one. >> ifill: car kari watkins, you were with president clinton in the oklahoma city tragedy. how did this speech ring for you tonight? >> i think president obama spoke on three things we tried to teach as a memorial effort: remembrance, respect and responsibility. while you want to remember what's happened and honor that, you still want to encourage people to respect each other and to watch what we say and that we veech a sense of responsibility
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and that sense of community and heroism came out when he talks about responsibility. >> ifill: when we hear about these speeches we have high hopes for them. we hope they'll make us feel better and that there will be closure. was this speech designed to do any of those things and did it accomplish any of them? >> i think it was very effective and what i most resonated with was his saying that our nature is to want to make sense out of chaos and in this case we can't make sense out of it and i think he helped us on our way to healing in acknowledging this. >> ifill: the other thing he talked about was the pettiness that drifts away with the next news sickle. he made this appeal across i guess party lines for this kind of reflection, this reflective moment. was this also essential tonight? >> it was essential to him. he talks a lot in private about cable t.v. which is short hand for a discourse where people benefit from conflict and saying the other side is horrible and saying the other saying that
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you're... this escalates. his whole point has been this whole presidency through his campaign was to try to break this cycle and make this a better country and i think he's using this episode to try to do that. >> ifill: ellen fitzpatrick, i want to read to you manager else he said. he asked us to pause for a moment and make sure we are talking with us in a way that heals not wounds. how did that strike you? >> i thought that was a wonderful comment. it was really a sign of what we expect from our president. that is what a leader does in a time of crisis and division and tragedy is to reduce not heighten tensions and i thought by his example the way he described the humanity of the people involved in this tragic event that he showed by the way he spoke and what he asked americans to do. he led by his own example in a very powerful way. >> ifill: kari watkins, the other thing that struck me is when he talked about expanding our moral imaginations.
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that's part of what you also have to do in the aftermath of a tragedy like that, in a tragedy that has to live with the remembrance of it. >> you do. remembrance is the hard part. it will be easier to just move on and forget it and go about with our lives and the word "hope." i mean sometimes that is a four-letter word. tonight in tucson, arizona, there aren't many people who don't understand hope. there's no hope because they're burying their young daughter or their mother or their father. so that's something that develops over time and that you have to grow with as a community and you have to find the very good in the very worst. there's a line in our mission statement at the national memorial that says to remember the horror of the tragedy with the tenderness of the response. i think that's so important when you look at the moral obligations of the community. >> reverend vincent, one of the things that's very interesting about this, we saw a lot of cheering in the stadium, we saw a lot of babies crying. there's something about the communal sharing of grief in
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moments like this. it's not always the way we imagine it to be. sometimes it felt raucous. how did that... >> it felt raucous to me as well and i think it was people reacting in the way that they felt ready to react. some with laughter. i'm sure some were crying. we didn't see the shots very much but every range of emotion in that crowd this evening. >> ifill: michael beschloss, how important was it that the president seize this particular moment and did he do it? >> you know, franklin roosevelt said the presidency is above all a place of moral leadership. that's what he did tonight. he said "all right, let's look at the way this country is now but let's look how it can be better and the kind of country that really calls the people who behave so wonderfully at the time of this episode to be there. >> ifill: ellen fitzpatrick, you get a final say on that as well. did he seize the moment he needed to seize? >> i do. i think this terrible, terrible event in fact gave barack obama the opportunities to do something he does very well which is to show through his own
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example his equilibrium, his calmness, the way forward for americans and to give them something important to think about and to do to examine their own lives and how they might treat their until low man and woman and their children with greater decency and love. >> ifill: ellen fitzpatrick, michael beschloss, janet vincent and kari watkins in oklahoma city, thank you all so very much. and thank you for joining us on our special newshour coverage. we'll be back with you at our regular time tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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