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Weekly remarks: Both Republican Jeff Flake and Obama take heart in Tucson spirit and heroes

January 15, 2011 |  3:00 am

Capitol Dome

Weekly remarks by Rep. Jeff Flake, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hello, I’m Jeff Flake, and I represent the people of Arizona’s 6th Congressional District.

Last week's horrific attack in Tucson is a stark reminder of the senseless brutality of which some are capable; the selfless bravery with which true heroes respond; and the enduring need for leaders who will uphold their oaths and listen to their constituents.

My heart goes out to the family of my friend and colleague, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and to all those impacted by this heinous act.

Among the lost are a federal judge ... a young girl, born on September 11th ... a congressional staffer. Many....

...others were injured.  And the lives of many are forever changed. These violent acts have no place in our society. And we should honor those who stood up in defiance, for it was from the shadows of this evil that we saw true heroism emerge.

When shots began to fire, Daniel Hernandez -- a young man who joined Gabby's staff as an intern just days before the incident -- rushed into harm's way. As he checked the pulses of the wounded he noticed Gabby on the ground, injured. He ran to her aid, and amid the crisis, shielded and tended to her.

Arizona Republican representative Jeff FlakeHis bravery and level-headedness during the crisis meant the difference between life and death -- literally.  Doctors have said that the actions Daniel took may very well have saved Gabby Giffords.

‘Of course you're afraid,’ he said, but ‘you kind of have to do what you can. People needed help.’

Daniel’s story on its own would have been inspiring if not for the many heroes who deserve our praise as well. These include the men and women who helped disarm the attacker and hold him until law enforcement arrived.  And of course, the talented medical personnel who have performed so admirably.

I last spoke with Gabby just days ago during our swearing-in ceremony on the House floor. In the past we’ve partnered on legislation making the House of Representatives more open and more accountable.

While we may not agree on everything, members of Congress are bound together by a sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution. As Speaker Boehner has said, an attack on one of us is an attack on all who serve –- an attack on representative democracy itself.

Gabby’s assailant struck while she was engaged in the most fundamental duty of a lawmaker: listening to her constituents.

It’s part of what distinguished us from the tyrannies of old and it continues to separate us from the despotisms of today.  The people are sovereign. The freedom and wisdom of the people determine our future -- not the whims of dictators and certainly not the bullets of fanatics.

And so it is our duty to uphold our oath, to listen and to represent. We will not let this inhumane act cow us into doing otherwise.

Please continue to keep all of the victims of this horrific tragedy in your thoughts. Pray that the injured make a speedy recovery and that those whose lives we’ve lost have their reward in heaven. Thank you for listening.        ####   

Democrat president Barack Obama in the Oval Office

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

It’s been one week since tragedy visited Tucson, Arizona.

We properly spent much of the week mourning the victims and remembering their lives. We also discovered stories that serve to lift us up –- stories of heroism and bravery, of courage and community – stories that remind us that we are one American family, 300 million strong.

One of the places we saw that sense of community on display was on the floor of Congress, where Gabby Giffords, who inspires us with her recovery, is deeply missed by her colleagues. One by one, representatives from all parts of the country and all points of view rose in common cause to honor Gabby and the other victims, and to reflect on our shared hopes for this country.

As shrill and discordant as our politics can be at times, it was a moment that reminded us of who we really are -- and how much we depend on one another.

While we can’t escape our grief for those we’ve lost, we carry on now, mindful of those truths.

We carry on because we have to. After all, this is still a time of great challenges for us to solve. We’ve got to grow jobs faster, and forge a stronger, more competitive economy. We’ve got to shore up our budget, and bring down our deficits. We’ve got to keep our people safe, and see to it that the American Dream remains vibrant and alive for our children and grandchildren.

These are challenges I believe we can meet. And I believe we can do it in a way worthy of those who sent us here to serve.  So as business resumes, I look forward to working together in that same spirit of common cause with members of Congress from both parties – because before we are Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans.

And as we perform the work of this nation, my prayer is that we stay true to our words, and turn to those examples of heroism, and courage, and perseverance to bring out the better in all of us.

Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.    ####

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Photos: Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press (lone worker vents hot air from the Capitol); Rep. Flake's office; Pete Souza / White House.

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