“Through the eyes of a child”

January 13, 2011

President Barack Obama faced two tests when he spoke Wednesday night at a memorial service for the six people killed in the Arizona shooting — make an emotional connection and comfort a grieving community.
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Obama honored heroes and victims, but his tribute to the youngest victim may have helped him connect with people who attended the service in Tucson or watched on television.

“And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green,”   Obama said. “In Christina, we see all of our children.”

Christina had gone with a neighbor to meet Representative Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday at an event where a gunman opened fire.

Obama described her as a curious and trusting child who was “just becoming aware of our democracy,” who saw public service as exciting and her congresswoman as a potential 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,” Obama said.

“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,” said Obama, a father of two young girls.

In closing, Obama noted that Christina was born on September 11th, 2001, and was one of 50 babies born on that day whose photographs were featured 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,’ ” Obama said. “If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.”

Photo Credits: REUTERS/Jim Young (NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly (R) applauds  Obama and first lady Michelle Obama after the president spoke at Tucson memorial service)

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