TUCSON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said at Wednesday's memorial in Tucson he visited Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the hospital and she knows "we are rooting for her."
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, along with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, U.S. Justice Anthony Kennedy and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., attended the "Together We Thrive: Tucson and America" memorial event at the University of Arizona to support and honor victims of Saturday's mass shooting.
"I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow. There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: The hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy will pull through," Obama said to an energized and emotional crowd.
"I have just come from the university medical center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I want to tell you … right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room ... Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. … Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you she knows we are here, she knows we love her, and she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey. We are there for her," Obama said.
A gunman opened fire at a political event Saturday in front of a Tucson grocery store, killing six people and wounding 14 others, including Giffords, who remains in critical condition. Among the dead were U.S. District Judge John Roll, his law clerk Matthew Bowman, and Giffords staffer Gabriel Zimmerman. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, faces federal charges in the mass shooting.
"At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized … it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure we're talking with each other in a way that heals -- not in a way that wounds," Obama said. "What we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do."
In Washington, House Speaker John Boehner introduced a resolution Tuesday that honors Giffords for her public service, denounces the killings of the six people and reaffirms the rights of peaceable assembly and petitioning the government as "bedrock principles" of U.S. democracy, The Hill reported.
The resolution condemns the attack while recognizing the 20 shooting victims and "applauds the bravery and quick thinking" of the people who tackled the gunman, possibly preventing further bloodshed.