A father spoke in Tucson

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.

5 thoughts on “A father spoke in Tucson

  1. Thank you for this post Pied, it helps. The ‘highlights’ of the service were all I could stand to watch. I lost a 9 year old child in 1993, but not to a lunatic’s bullet. I understand the impact of sudden death. But it’s hard for me to watch memorial services, especially with applause. I hope the president’s wish on Christina’s behalf prevails in the weeks and months ahead, and that some diminishing of the vitriol and cynicism occurs. This partisan polarity is literally killing us.

      1. To quote a fine Republican president (Lincoln, the closing lines of his inaugural address):

        In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”
        I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

... and that's my two cents