Tucson Memorial Struck an Odd Note

by admin on January 13, 2011

in Tyler Businesses

Last night I found myself moving from room to room, television to television trying to catch what I could of the Tucson memorial service while my son watched something else at the same time. The event started out in what was to me a very unusual way. Carlos Gonzales, professor at a local university offered a brief history of his family and their Arizonan heritage, and then pronounced a “Native American blessing” over the proceedings. Now I actually found the story of his family and how they helped to settled Arizona kind of interesting. However, the subsequent blessing was unusual and seemed out of place. His entire presentation was irrelevant to the purpose of the proceedings. Now before my readers jump all over me, I’m not insulting the man’s beliefs, I just don’t think they fit with those of most of the attendees or victims of Saturday’s tragedy.

A number of speakers followed including the aid who helped to save the life of congresswomen Giffords; and who modestly insisted that he wasn’t a hero. Of course the president’s speech was the main event of the evening. There was much speculation leading up to the event about whether or not the president would politicize the moment. Most commentators predicted correctly that President Obama would largely resist the urge to use it as an opportunity to score political points. Instead he praised the victims, extolled American values, encouraged free debate but called for civility on all sides and challenged the country to live up to the hopes and dreams of nine year old victim Christina Taylor Green. It may surprise some, but I thought the Prez delivered a fairly good speech, it was a bit too long, but otherwise it was for the most part non-partisan.

What did bother me, (and I think maybe the president as well), was the overall tenor of the event which struck me as highly unusual. The crowd as I understand it, was largely made up of college students, who treated the event like a campaign stop or a pep-rally. There was no sense on somber reflection or piety at all! Nor was there any real nod to the faith of the victims. And while I don’t know about much about the religion practiced by most of them, I do know that at least one, (Federal Judge John Roll), was a devout Catholic. Yet I saw no Christian expression of faith or grief. The closest the event came to that was when members of the administration read or quoted scripture. But there was no Priest, no Pastor, and no Minister; only a “medicine man” offering a pronouncement that no one seemed to understand.

I don’t pretend to know what all of this says about the American people. What concerns me is that it seems to point to an increased loss of dignity and decorum on the part of the average citizen. I fear that as a people, our ability to discern what is respectful and meaningful is on a downward spiral. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I saw no evidence of reverence or refection in last night’s “memorial service.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sj January 13, 2011 at 8:23 am

Speaking of loss of decorum, have you been to ANYONE'S funeral lately? Or weddings or Sunday service or almost anything for that matter. It's all sneakers and T-shirts. I'm not saying we should be wearing ties to baseball games…but maybe we shouldn't be handing out T-shirts at a mass murder memorial service.


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