The right tone

“…We are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth or power or fame, but how much we have loved and what small part we have played to make a difference…”

“…They are part of our family, an American family…”

“…If this tragedy prompts debate and it should, let’s make sure it is worthy of those we have lost…”

The President was on target tonight and did what he needed to do – he struck the right tone and, hopefully, began to heal the nation that is longing to be brought together.  The memorial was incredibly moving.  I found myself on my feet and clapping when the President took the time to point out the Heroes of Saturday.  While the President’s words and power of his requests of us were unsurprising, I was amazed by many of the speakers and the unity with which they called us to listen to our better angels.  Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder shared their faith and Daniel Hernandez again rejected the concept of his heroism.  Governor Brewer acted like a Governor leading a grieving state.  And as the President and the Governor came together tonight they  showed that we can put our differences aside and celebrate lives together.  Perhaps even giving us hope that we can begin to realign our debate, reset our politics, and disagree without demonizing.

To be honest, I was thrown off at first by the cheering during the memorial.  It was strange.  Yes, the memorial was held at a sports arena, but it was a memorial.  A typically somber affair.  But as the cheers continued – for everything from the Mexican heritage of the man who gave the invocation (perhaps as a reaction to SB 1070), for the various speakers, the heroes who refuse to call themselves heroes, to the thunderous applause when the President reported that Representative Giffords opened her eyes I began to see the beauty and catharsis in the unbridled cheering.

For the first time in a long time the elected leaders, the rank and file elected officials, and a good majority of us did the right thing – we put it aside and came together.  Congress condemned the shooting and many Representatives and Senators spoke eloquently about their friend and the ordinary Americans who became victims on Saturday.  Let’s try to keep the momentum going.  We’re going to continue to debate, disagree, and even fight as we move on from this tragedy.  This will be healthy.  Regardless of what happens over the next weeks and months and years – lets all, as the President asked of himself,  “live up to her (Christina Taylor Green) expectations…”

Pic via Matt Sullivan/Reuters, Christian Science Monitor

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