Obama: ‘Gabby opened her eyes for the first time’ this afternoonby admin on Jan. 12, 2011, under Site changes
We’ll monitor the local reaction from various media sources, blogs and Twitter feeds from tonight’s “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America” memorial service at McKale Center. TucsonCitizen.com’s Carli Brosseau is among the press corps and you can see her tweets on the left side of this page.
On Twitter, the official hashtag is #obamatuc.
The university reports that attendance for the memorial service is 26,172 — 13,172 at McKale Center and 13,000 at Arizona Stadium.
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There are reports that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz were in the hospital room this afternoon when Gabrielle Giffords opened her eyes. Gillibrand was quoted on CNN as saying, “It was like witnessing a miracle.”
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Tweet from someone calling herself The Carie: I cried a whole lot. A whole lot. And if you’re new to tucson, you ought to know we love clapping.
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The memorial service ends. With the cheering of those in attendance, it sometimes had the feel of a rally, not a memorial, but it was also a time to celebrate those who acted bravely and swiftly and wisely on Saturday and beyond.
No ovation lifted the spirits more than President Obama’s news that U.S. Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, recovering from a gunshot to the head, opened her eyes today for the first time.
You can see that those comments were not in the original text of his speech.
Some of the final words from President Obama: “The forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”
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7:16 p.m.: Obama on Christina Taylor Green: “I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.”
7:11 p.m.: Obama: “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”
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6:55 p.m.: Obama talking about visiting Gabrielle Giffords at UMC, delivers happy news: “A few minutes after we left her room, and some of her colleagues from Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. … I can tell you she knows we are here, she knows we love her, and she knows we are rooting for her through what undoubtedly will be a difficult journey. We are there for her.”
6:45 p.m.: Obama’s opening words: “I have come here tonight as an American, who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow.”
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The Tucson Weekly has posted quotes from those in attendance at the ceremony:
Sheriff Clarence Dupnik on Judge Roll: “He was one of the finest human beings I ever met and the epitome of what judges ought to be,” Dupnik said. “Every judge should take a look at him.”
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6:33 p.m.: Gov. Brewer: “This state, bound together by prayer and action and hope and faith, will not be shredded by one madman’s act of darkness.”
Daniel Hernandez, credited with saving the life of Gabrielle Giffords rejects being called a hero, says the real heroes are the people who dedicate their lives to public service.
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From earlier, posted via the Desert Lamp:
6:21 p.m.: Standing ovation for Daniel Hernandez at McKale. What must that feel like to have the President standing next to you, clapping for you?
6:17 p.m.: University of Arizona president Robert Shelton: “We’re here to try to bring comfort to those whose lives have been forever changed by an act that is heinous that it is almost impossible to comprehend.”
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Here is a timeline of President Obama’s visit before heading to McKale Center (information from the White House press office):
All information below per Robert Gibbs.
The president and Mrs. Obama spent about 45 minutes at the hospital. They visited a total of five patients who were victims of Saturday’s attack, including Rep. Giffords and two of her staffers, Ron Barber and Pam Simon, plus two others who were not identified.
They were led on the tour by Dr. Peter Rhee. A White House physician was part of the advance team for the hospital. A breakdown of the hospital tour follows, below.
We arrived at the McKale Center at just before 5 p.m. POTUS and FLOTUS are meeting privately with 13 people who are family members of the deceased. With them are AG Holder, Sens. McCain and Kyl, and Rep. Barrasso. They may be meeting with other family members after this group.
Here is the breakdown of their visit (all times local):
4:06 to 4:07 p.m.: They arrive on the ICU, on the second floor of the hospital and greet doctors, nurses and staff near Giffords’ room
4:07 to 4:16 p.m.: They visit with Giffords and her husband. He said he had no information on her condition or whether she was able to participate in the visit.
4:16 to 4:21 p.m. They visit with patient #2 (he did not say whether this was one of the staffers or one of the unidentified patients)
4:22 to 4:23 p.m. They greeted doctors, nurses and staff
4:23 to 4:28 p.m. They visit with patient #3
4:28 to 4:36 p.m. They walk through hospital and greet personnel and take several photos
4:36 to 4:39 p.m. They visit with patient #4
4:39 to 4:40 p.m. They greet doctors, nurses and staff
4:40 to 4:45 p.m. They visit with patient #5
4:45 to 4:49 p.m. They walk through the hospital, shaking hands, and go to the first floor
4:49 to 4:51 p.m. They meet with about 20 people on the trauma team that received the victims on Saturday.
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6:01 p.m.: The President and First Lady walk in to McKale Center as the crowd eruptsa. President Obama is standing next to Gabrielle Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez.
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T-shirts handed out at McKale with the “Together We Thrive” slogan.
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5:55 p.m.: KOLD Channel 13 reporters wearing yellow ribbons as a symbol of the community coming together, according to anchor Heather Rowe.
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From the Huffington Post, previewing President Obama’s speech:
Searching for the right tone in the evening service, Obama aimed to console the country, not dissect its politics. In talking of those shot and killed, Obama will “reflect on how all of us might best honor their memory in our own lives,” his spokesman said.
The president was expected to speak for about 15 minutes. A bipartisan delegation of lawmakers accompanied him on Air Force One in a sign of solidarity.
5:41 p.m.: Tweet from FoxNews11: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is in the McKale crowd.
5:39 p.m.: Photo of Arizona Stadium from Keith Lajoie via Twitter:
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Mayor Bob Walkup, in a taped piece on CNN, talks about what President Obama can provide tonight.
“It helps in the healing process. I know he knows Tucson is a great community. One of the things today is all about the healing process, praying for those who are still in the healing process and remembering those who lost their lives, but it is also about tomorrow.”
5:22 p.m.: Tom Duddleston of the Arizona athletic department says McKale just closed. Overflow crowd being told to go to Arizona Stadium, where service will shown on videoboard.
5:14 p.m. Tweet from Tucson Weekly: Dr. Lemole and Dr. Rhee are receiving spontaneous rounds of applause in McKale
5:05 p.m.: Tweet from FoxNews11: White House says the President spent nine minutes with Rep. #Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly at UMC.