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Tucson Takes Stock

I just tuned to the coverage  and am trying to figure out why there is so much cheering and hooting punctuating a memorial service, even during the Native American benediction that began it.

I can only assume it is U. of Ariz. students in the audience, but it was jarring at first. I guess I am getting used to the constant pauses for applause, something like a State of the Union Speech, and the President hasn’t even started speaking yet.

OK, Daniel Hernandez Jr. the intern who probably saved Rep. Gabby Giffords life just got a shout-out and a standing ovation.

All the speakers are talking from a lectern with the Presidential Seal on it. I like the symbolism of that leveling, with college presidents, students, and eventually the President, all speaking from the same place, which is the heart as well as the stage.

Hernandez is delivering something of a stem-winder.  Saying he is no hero, instead pointing to the doctors, first responders, and others.  Again, the applause is so like a political speech.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, ignoring Hernandez protestation, began with praising his uncommon courage that likely helped save the congresswomans’ life.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano even got cheers for a reading from Isaiah, while Attorney General Eric Holder got a shout-out for his scripture offering.

The President is getting a rock star reception. “We love you,” shouts out one voice, even as the President starts talking to the families of those who had lost loved ones. While the president tries to bring the tone to one of solemnity, the applause and shouts continue at his dramatic pauses, although the cheers seem to be less raucous now.

President says Giffords opened her eyes for first time Wednesday night–erruption of applause, and mine right along with it.  Yes!!! “She knows we are here. She knows we love her,” he says.

“Sorry, you may deny it, but we’ve decided you are a hero,” said the President of Hernandez, who stood, to be immediately hugged by Gifford’s husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. He is now thanking the people who tackled the shooter, and the woman who wrestled the second ammo clip from him.

OK, I get the vibe. This is a celebration of the human spirit in the face of irrational violence. It is not allowing that darkness to make that human sprit its seventh victim. That is the cheer coming out of this place, and not just from students.

President says it is not time to point fingers or assign blame, but says it is time to “sharpen our instincts for empathy.”