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Touching Words

January 13, 2011

President Obama spoke in Tucson, Arizona yesterday at the memorial service for the victims of last Saturday’s shooting. For anyone who believes the president is too cool, too unemotional, too uninvolved, I think the speech he gave, regardless of where your political ideology lies, can put those assumptions to rest.

I thought the end of the president’s speech when he talked about nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green was especially touching and heartfelt and rather than paraphrase it, I’m going to simply copy and paste it below (emphasis in the first paragraph is mine).

As for me, I do believe we can do better and I hope I can continue to hold onto that belief without growing cynical. Not that I’d grow cynical because of the tragedy in Tucson, although it would be easy, but because of the sad thought that the awareness we found as a result of the tragedy in Tucson could quickly be forgotten once the next news story hits the air or the next season of American Idol (or any other equally brain-rotting reality television show) starts.

Robert F. Kennedy said, “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom” and I hope we’ve gained some wisdom this past week. I hope we’ve gained enough wisdom to turn this tragedy into something good.

From the president’s speech:

“. . . our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

I believe 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 is entirely up to us.  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.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.  Imagine: 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, 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 she imagined it.  All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

Christina was given to us on September 11th, 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 of 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 puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.  And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.” – President Barack Obama, January 12, 2011, Tucson, Arizona.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 13, 2011 10:31 pm

    Nice post Mr. Fishman.


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