Updated at 10:02 a.m. on January 12.
On Wednesday night, when President Obama addresses what is sure to be a packed crowd at the McKale Memorial Center at the University of Arizona, his words will reverberate not only in grieving Tucson but also across the country.
Whether the president can deliver a speech worthy of the moment -- the first attempted assassination of a female member of Congress, and the murder of six bystanders -- remains to be seen.
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If similar moments of national grief are any indication, the president will acknowledge Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., as well as the lives cut short, ranging from community leader and federal Judge John Roll, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, who was on his way home from daily Mass when he decided to drop by to visit his friend Giffords; or 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, who went to the event because of her interest in politics. He will surely salute those who responded to the tragedy, including Dr. Peter Rhee, the Korean-American surgeon who helped save Giffords's life, and Daniel Hernandez Jr., the lawmaker's intern, who wisely applied pressure to her bleeding skull, and who is gay.
"You have the potential to remind people what's best about America, which is our dedication to higher principles, to being one people, to being resolute for justice in the face of this, and that's the pivot the president needs to make," said Don Baer, who was President Clinton's chief of speech writing at the time of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.