This was not a good week to be following the news. The shooting in Tucson dominated with analysis, blame, accusations — and, almost lost in all the punditry, updates on the condition of Rep. Gabby Giffords.
Then came the memorial service for the six who died, and the president who came to remember them. The number one politician in the country, often more lightning rod than leader. What could he possibly say that would not be seen as political? What could he possibly say that would not ring hollow and trite?
As it turned out, it was 2008’s Candidate Obama who spoke. The orator with the uplifting words of hope and optimism had returned. And for me, a parent and grandparent, the words that reached the deepest and meant the most were these:
[Christina*] 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, something 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 us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. All of us — we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.
*Christina Green, age 9 (born 9/11/2001) was one of those killed in Tucson. President Obama and his wife Michelle have two daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9.