America “As Good As She Imagined It”

By , January 13, 2011 9:32 pm

President Barack Obama’s speech at the memorial service for the victims of Saturday’s shooting was brilliant and powerful. He consoled and comforted the citizens of Tucson and the nation, while eulogizing those who were killed and praising the first responders and doctors who are still working to heal those who survived.

He also talked about the level of vitriol in political debate. He said a lack of civility in politics didn’t motivate the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner. In fact, he departed from the prepared text and firmly said, “It did not.” Obama used the opportunity, though, to appeal for unity among Americans and inspire hope about our political system. He asked all of us to live up to the expectations of our children and make our country as good as Christina Green – the youngest victim in Saturday’s shooting – imagined it.

They believed and I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives 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. 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.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. 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 someday 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. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can do to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

Watch the entire speech here:

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