Obama: Unify our city with strength, grace and wisdom

Presentation of Colors kicks of the Dallas memorial (KXAN Photo)

DALLAS (KXAN) — On Tuesday afternoon, the Meyerson Symphony Center, which seats 2,062, was at capacity with men and women in blue. But out of all those seats, there were five empty seats saved for the five officers who died while on duty in Dallas last week.

As the injured officers and the family of the fallen officers filed into the center, they were all greeted with standing ovations. A rousing and moving performance by the Interfaith Choir opened the service as President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, took their seats right before 1 p.m.

Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings opened the memorial service with a message about unity and gratitude for the officers in attendance and the ones who paid the ultimate price.

“It’s our purpose today to bring comfort to you, the families represented by those empty seats,” said Rawlings. “We also honor you who came close to death that night. Wounded in the body and soul, may you never be forgotten as well.” Nine officers were injured in the attack.

For President Bush, Dallas is home.

“Today, the nation grieves, but those who love Dallas and call it home have had five deaths in the family,” said Bush. “With their deaths we have lost so much. We are grief stricken, heart-broken and forever grateful.”

When speaking about one of the fallen officers, Bush even joked that he was a “loyal Texas Rangers fan.”

Before Obama spoke, Dallas Chief of Police David Brown channeled Stevie Wonder’s I’ll Be Loving You Always to deliver his thoughts on how he felt about the situation and his fellow officers.

“These five men gave their lives for all of us,” said Brown succinctly before he handed the podium over to Obama.

After thanking the dignitaries for attending the service, Obama immediately got the room laughing when he cracked a joke about Brown’s affinity for Stevie Wonder, “I’m glad I met Michelle first because she loves Stevie Wonder.”

The President addressed recent racial tensions as well as how the country must support the men and women who put on the uniform every day.

“We’re here to honor the memory and mourn the loss of five fellow Americans. To grieve with their loved ones, to support this community,” said Obama. “To pray for the wounded and to try to find some meaning amidst our sorrow.”

Obama said it wasn’t about being white or black the night Micah Johnson attacked the officers, because everyone stepped in to help pick each other up. “That’s the America I know,” said Obama several times throughout his speech.

He also reiterated what Chief Brown said earlier in the week about how much police officers are tasked to do in this country. He said while race relations have improved dramatically in his lifetime, more can still be done.

“Can we find the character as Americans to open our hearts to each other?” asked the President. “Can we see in each other a common humanity and how different experiences have shaped us?”

He ended his speech with “May God bless their memory. May God bless this country that we love.”

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s