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Obama calls for unity, humility at Tucson memorial

At a memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, President Obama sought to move beyond finger-pointing to healing. He said of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was killed: 'I want to live up to her expectations.'

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Obama spoke movingly of all those killed in the attack.

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One victim, Judge John Roll, was the chief federal judge for Arizona, who had been recommended to the federal bench by Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona. In two instances, elderly men shielded their wives when the bullets began to fly; one of the men, Dorwan Stoddard, died. The other, George Morris, was shot but survived. His wife, Dorothy, passed away. Obama called another victim, Phyllis Schneck, “our mom and our grandma.”

Most heartbreaking were the stories of Gabe Zimmerman, a 30-year-old aide to Giffords who had just gotten engaged, and of Christina Taylor Green, the promising 9-year-old girl born on Sept. 11, 2001.

Obama sought to use the death of the youngest victim as a source of inspiration.

“She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting and hopeful,” he said. “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,” Obama said.

The packed auditorium grew raucous at times, as emotions ran high. The 20-year-old Giffords intern, Daniel Hernandez, credited with saving Giffords’s life when he ran to her side and ministered to her wounds as soon as she fell, gave a moving speech, rejecting the notion that he’s a hero. Obama later begged to differ.

Mr. Hernandez occupied a seat of honor next to the president in the front row, before and after the president spoke.

Other speakers included Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), Attorney General Eric Holder, and Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D). Also seated in the front row were former Supreme Court Justice and Arizona native Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Anthony Kennedy.

IN PICTURES: Tucson memorial

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