President Barack Obama will go to Tucson, Arizona, Wednesday to speak at a memorial service for those killed in Saturday’s shootings. The president will try to help the nation deal with the rampage, which left six people dead and a U.S. congresswoman critically wounded.
The president and his wife Michelle will cross the country to attend Wednesday night’s memorial service at the University of Arizona.
The president will speak there, in an effort to help Americans cope with the tragedy.
After meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the White House Monday, Obama talked about the task he faces.
“It is going to be important, I think, for the country as a whole, as well as the people of Arizona, to feel as if we are speaking directly to our sense of loss, but also speaking to our hopes for the future, and how, out of this tragedy, we can come together as a stronger nation,” said Obama.
On Saturday, a gunman approached Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she met with constituents outside a shopping center in Tucson. The man shot her in the head, then turned the gun on others in attendance.
Six people were killed, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. Giffords remained in critical condition Tuesday, but doctors expressed optimism about her recovery.
Authorities arrested 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner and charged him with the shooting.
President Obama has spent the past several days calling the families of shooting victims and talking with lawmakers and advisers about how best to handle the situation.
He said Monday he is focused on offering prayers and support to shaken Americans.
“The main thing we are doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who have been impacted, making sure that we are joining together and pulling together as a country. As President of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I am spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them.”
Obama postponed a trip he had scheduled for Tuesday, to visit a General Electric factory in New York state. The first lady put off a Tuesday event with business leaders.
Congress has postponed all business scheduled for this week, except for a House resolution supporting the shooting victims, praising the bravery of the responders and reaffirming the right to peaceful assembly.
Lawmakers also have been talking with law enforcement officials about ways to enhance their safety.
Meanwhile, Americans have been debating whether harsh political rhetoric contributed to Saturday’s attack, and whether such speech should be curtailed.