I think it would be hard to hear the President’s remarks and not be so grateful that such an incredible human being is our leader at a very challenging time in our nation’s history.

After um, magically faith healing Rep. Giffords with his presence(?), he then spoke at the memorial service for the victims of the Tucson tragedy. POTUS urged the nation to speak to each other in ways that heal, rather than wound. The most moving part of his speech — besides telling us that Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time — for me at least was towards the end. The President choked up, the First Lady was trying hard not to cry and I admit that I got a lil bit juicy watching in my living room myself. What a contrast from Sarah Palin’s self-obsessed, self-defensive, self-contradictory and instantly divisive statement on the same day. Imagine if she were our Vice President at this time rather than a man who found a way to inspire us to gain strength and wisdom from this terrible experience and commit to be better people, better Americans. I’ll take Obama’s hope-filled national hug and caramel-flavored words of reconciliation any day of the week over Palin’s invocations of duels and “blood libel”. It’s never been more clear who the real leader of our nation really is. Obama has set a new standard of grace and humanity. (from the transcript):

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better.  To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and coworkers and parents.  And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.  (Applause.)

We should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American Dream to future generations.  (Applause.)

They believed — they believed, and I believe that we can be better.  Those who died here, those who saved life 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, that’s entirely up to us.  (Applause.)

And 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.  (Applause.)

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.  (Applause.)

Imagine — imagine for a moment, 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 some day 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 and 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 to live up to her expectations.  (Applause.)  I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it.  I want America to be as good as she imagined it.  (Applause.)  All of us -– we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.  (Applause.)

As has already been mentioned, 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 the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart.”  (Applause.)  “I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.  (Applause.)  And here on this Earth — here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and we commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace.  May He love and watch over the survivors.  And may He bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

What did you think of the President’s address last night? I’d recommend you listen or read if you haven’t had a chance. I think it will go down as one of his greatest moments. Also, if you’d like to hear more from Air Force One from Giffords’ friends in Congress who witnessed her breakthrough last night after the president’s speech, here’s an excerpt from the White House blog after the jump. Yo, Gabby Giffords is a mighty pillar of strength. Having met Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in person at BlogHer 2010, I can tell you that she comes across as a very warm and pretty normal mom who happens to be pretty bright to boot.

SENATOR GILLIBRAND: Okay, well, I’ll go, and then you’ll go — okay. Well, we were very excited that we were even going to have the chance of getting to visit her hospital room. We didn’t know when we first came whether we had that opportunity. And so when we did have the chance, we were so excited to get to see her. And when we came in the room, the doctor was there, her parents were there, Mark is there, and the Speaker — Speaker Pelosi and Debbie and I went in.

And we just were so excited, so we were telling her how proud we were of her and how she was inspiring the whole nation with her courage and with her strength. And then Debbie and I started joking about all the things we were going to do after she got better. And we were holding her hand and she was responding to our hand-holding. She was rubbing our hands and gripping our hands so we could — she could really — we knew she could hear and understand what we were saying and she moved her leg, and so we knew she was responding. And the more we joked about what we were going to do, she started to open her eyes literally.

And then you have to recognize, her eyes hadn’t opened — we didn’t know that — and so she started to struggle. And one of her eyes is covered with a bandage because it was damaged in the gunfire. So her eye is flickering. And Mark sees this and gets extremely excited. And we didn’t — I didn’t know what that meant. And so he said, Gabby, open your eyes, open your eyes. And he’s really urging her forward. And the doctor is like perking up and everyone is coming around the bed. And she’s struggling and she’s struggling and it’s a good — we couldn’t figure it out, maybe 30 seconds, where she’s really trying to get her eyes open, like doing this, this, this.

And then she finally opens her eyes and you could she was like desperately trying to focus and it took enormous strength from her. And Mark could just — can’t believe it. I mean, he’s so happy. And we’re crying because we’re witnessing something that we never imagined would happen in front of us.

And so Mark says, he says — he said, Gabby, if you can see me, give us the thumbs up, give us the thumbs up. And so we’re waiting and we’re waiting and —


SENATOR GILLIBRAND: And we just thought, okay — and you could watch — when you’re watching her eyes, she’s really trying to focus. Like you could see she hadn’t opened her eyes in days. And then instead of giving the thumbs up, she literally raises her whole arm like this — like this. It was unbelievable. And then she reaches out and starts grabbing Mark and is touching him and starts to nearly choke him — she was clearly trying to hug him.

And so like — she was — it was such a moment. And we were just in tears of joy watching this and beyond ourselves, honestly. And then Mark said, you know, touch my ring, touch my ring. And she touches his ring and then she grabs his whole watch and wrist. And then the doctor was just so excited. He said, you don’t understand, this is amazing, what’s she’s doing right now, and beyond our greatest hopes.

And so then they decided we had to go because it was a lot — (laughter) — of excitement for her and it was — we just told her how proud we were and how much we loved her and said we’d visit soon.

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