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From the Archives: President Obama Honors Victims of Tucson Violence

A look back at the President's moment of silence and speech honoring victims of the tragedy in Tucson.

It’s been a little more than one year since the senseless acts of violence in Tucson, Arizona that killed six people and injured 13 more. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was holding an event for her constituents in a grocery store parking lot when she was shot, spent the last year recovering. Among those killed were one of her staffers, a federal judge, and a 9-year-old girl.

On this day last year, President Obama joined the nation for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the shooting. He called it “a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart.”

Later that week, President Obama traveled to Tucson to speak at a memorial service, honoring the lives lost and celebrating the heroism of those who put themselves in harm’s way to help others.

In his speech, the President spoke about the unknown motives behind the attack, and called on Americans everywhere to use the tragedy as an opportunity to come together as a nation.

For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. 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. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. 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. 

Watch the President’s speech in Tucson

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