The reaction to Wednesday night’s memorial service at the University of Arizona in Tucson paying tribute to the victims of the recent tragedy that claimed six lives and injured 14, including Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has been all over the board.
Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume, who covered President Bill Clinton’s 1995 speech following the Oklahoma City bombing, offered his thoughts and suggested the unconventional proceeding may be a positive for the traumatized area.
“I just wanted to add, I think the president prepared this speech in the expectation that this would be indeed a memorial service,” Hume said. “I think it ended up being nothing of the kind. This was much more of a pep rally and perhaps that is precisely what the people of Tucson and the people of this region needed and wanted. And it really was the case that the audience was in control of the tone of this event. The audience’s reaction to the president and to the earlier speakers, and to some of the earlier speakers as well – set the tone for the event. The president prepared his speech to have a certain kind of tone. I think he would have liked it not to go on for 36 minutes or whatever it did, but it was interrupted repeatedly by applause but he couldn’t help that. It was longer, as Chris [Wallace] pointed out, some of the other events on similar occasions.”
He added it was similar setting to the 1995 Clinton speech. However, Hume noted some of the more unusual attributes, including the Native American blessing presented by Carlos Gonzalez.
“It was a similar hall,” Hume said. “The whole tone and atmosphere was different and I kept thinking this week he was going on out on Wednesday – on Wednesday, it’s couple of days ago and yet it seems longer somehow to me. It seems almost as if this event is a little late. Certainly the mood in that auditorium suggested the sense of mournfulness that you might have expected and sobriety you might have expected was not to be found tonight. And of course I think the whole thing is attributable in part to the remarkable opening blessing that was delivered by … Carlos Gonzalez, who by the time it was over with, he had blessed the reptiles of the sea and he had prayed to the four doors of the building and while I’m sure that all has an honorable tradition with his people, with it was most peculiar.”