Memorial Service or Pep Rally?
By Diane Auer Jones
The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 13, 2011
Tonight, with deep sadness, I watched the televised memorial service in Arizona. The pain felt by the friends and families of the injured and killed is simply unimaginable to those of us who have not experienced such a loss. It is admirable that the University of Arizona took a leadership role in paying tribute to the victims and I thank them for opening their campus to the world. I thank President and Mrs. Obama for representing our nation in extending our collective condolences to those touched by this tragedy.
I think we all welcomed the opportunity to honor those now departed and to communicate to Congresswoman Gifford and her husband that they are in our thoughts and prayers and that we look forward to celebrating her full recovery. But as I watched the memorial service, I couldn’t help but be embarrassed for the people of Arizona and for all Americans–and in fact deeply outraged–that while some were suffering so profoundly, there were many in the audience (presumably students) who seemed to think that they were at a pep rally or political convention. One wonders if some saw this as the social event of the year, or a material for a new page in the college scrapbook, rather than an opportunity to reflect upon our national grief and show our collective support to those who need to know that we care. The behavior of the audience was nothing short of appalling.
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