President Barack Obama will speak Wednesday at the University of Arizona in Tucson during a memorial to commemorate the victims of Saturday’s shooting, the school announced Monday.
The president will give remarks at 6 p.m. at the McKale Center “to support and remember victims of the mass shooting in Tucson, and to lift the spirits of those who have been personally affected by this tragedy,” according to the university’s website. First lady Michelle Obama will also attend the “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America” event, which is free and open to the public.
Other speakers will include university President Robert Shelton, state and federal officials, and members of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. The event will include a Native American blessing, a moment of silence and a poetry reading. University officials are urging the public to visit Wednesday afternoon to write messages on a chain that will be presented that night at the ceremony.
Obama has responded swiftly — and publicly — to the shooting that left six dead, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in critical condition and 13 others injured. The White House has been issuing regular updates on Obama’s briefings with security officials, in addition to identifying lawmakers and victims’ relatives he has contacted.
The president honored the victims Monday with a moment of silence at the White House; he also ordered all U.S. flags to fly at half-mast until sunset Friday. He called on Americans to use the coming days to reflect on the incident and the toll it has taken on the victims.
“As president of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I’m spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them,” Obama said Monday at the White House.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.