President Barack Obama announced Wednesday evening that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords "opened her eyes for the first time" since being shot through the head on Saturday as she greeted constituents in a Tucson supermarket parking lot. "She knows we're here," Obama told memorial-goers. "She knows we love her."
The president capped off a day of visits with Giffords and other injured victims of the shooting massacre being treated at Tucson's University Medical Center and visits with the deceased victims' families by delivering remarks at a memorial rally on the campus of the University of Arizona. Instead of a somber tone, the crowd gathered for the service was energized and greeted the president and other public servants with cheers, whistles and resounding applause.
The president said that Giffords' husband allowed him to share the news her recovery with the crowd -- news that brought people to their feet amid cheering.
While many have used Saturday's tragedy to point the finger at their political opponents, President Obama reminded the country that "the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us."
"We can be better," Obama said, urging Americans not to use the tragedy to "turn on one another." For all of humanity's imperfections, the president said, "we are full of decency and goodness." To illustrate his point, Obama thanked a number of individuals who had risked their own lives to save others during Saturday's horrific shooting which killed six and injured 13 others.
Among those praised by the president congressional intern Daniel Hernandez who received a hero's ovation from the cheering crowd. Earlier in the service, Hernandez delivered his own remarks, declining the title of hero and insisting it belongs to individuals like Giffords who dedicate their lives to public service.
The president also spoke about Americans' duty to honor those who passed away Saturday, namely 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green:
Obama was in his element Wednesday night, feeding off crowd energy and delivering rousing remarks. Instead of a somber memorial service, the convention center boomed with cheers and applause as the crowd celebrating coming together as Arizonans and Americans.
The event, dubbed "Together we Thrive: Tucson and America," was organized by the University of Arizona.
Additionally, the House of Representatives voted to pass a resolution honoring the victim's of Saturday's shootings.