President Obama hailed as heroes Tuesday the Dallas Police Department and the five officers slain last week in a gunman’s rampage that rocked this city and the nation.
“When bullets started to fly, they did not flinch,” Obama said at an emotional interfaith memorial service Tuesday honoring the officers. “In some cases, helped by protesters, they … saved more lives than we will ever know.”
Obama said the city has “shown us the meaning of perseverance.” He thanked Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas Police Chief David Brown for their work and noted that Rawlings is white, Brown is black.
“These men, this (police) department, this is the America I know,” Obama said.
He said policing is made harder because the nation fails to fund mental health and drug abuse efforts. He said guns are easier for youths to obtain than computers.
“If we cannot talk honestly and openly … then we will never break this dangerous cycle,” he said.
Former President George W. Bush stressed the need for national unity.
“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions,” Bush said. “This has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose… We want the unity of hope, affection and higher purpose.”
Five seats at the front at the packed Meyerson Symphony Center held only folded flags in honor of the victims. Amazing Grace and The Star Spangled Banner kicked off the service, followed by a brief statement from Mayor Mike Rawlings.
Rawlings welcomed the nation to his city, saying all citizens shared the grief enveloping his city.
“Dallas’ pain is a national pain,” Rawlings said. “The past few days have been some of the darkest in our city’s history.”
But Rawlings added that he was “in awe” of the Dallas Police Department, saying it set a standard for strong, smart policing.
“This is our chance to lead, to build a new model for a community, for a city, for our country,” Rawlings said before Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders spoke of the importance of love and unity.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, lauded the fallen officers for putting the people of Dallas above their own safety.
“They overcame evil by sacrificing their own lives so that others might live,” Cornyn said.
Obama, in a show of unity, brought outspoken critic Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, with him to Dallas on Air Force One. On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to meet with civil rights leaders and law enforcement officials on the broader issues regarding race and law enforcement that have sparked demonstrations nationwide.
Obama met Monday at the White House with representatives of police organizations. Obama has labeled the Dallas attack a hate crime. Dallas police killed the shooter, Micah Johnson with a bomb delivered by a robot.
Source: USA Today | Trevor Hughes