January 13th, 2011
12:45 PM ET

Letters to the President: #724 'Nice job'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama spoke in Arizona last night in the wake of the shootings there.

Dear Mr. President,

Nice job on the speech last night. I was a little startled by all the cheering and I wondered at first if you were too. I realize it was not billed as a memorial service, but the generally loud atmosphere surprised me. Still, I read a comment from some local leader there who said it was just what the local people needed to release a lot of pent up emotion, so if it worked, so much the better.

I used to possess no understanding of the impact of tragedies like this on the larger community. It was easy to see how and why it affected the people who were directly involved, but the idea that people who simply lived in the area would be traumatized seemed strange. Then the Columbine shootings happened.

I think I've mentioned before that we lived only a few miles from the school, went to events there, and knew some people who were inside during the gunfire. I was also assigned to cover the killings. So for pretty much a straight month I was on the story all day, then sat up half the night talking about it with my wife - about friends who were struggling with grief, guilt, and fear. We were profoundly sad. Not just for those who were hurt or killed, but also for the lost sense of safety in our neighborhood.

Every time we dropped our children off at school (they were very young), a creepy nervousness seemed to hover nearby. Parks where we'd played with them felt uncomfortable. Favorite restaurants didn't seem so inviting. Even our church, where President Clinton met with the victims’ families, seemed oddly uncomfortable - as if during services we were all trying to think of something other than the unthinkable thing that had happened. And like I said, we did not live next door to the school; we were a few miles away. Yet, thousands of folks lived in that same radius and I'll bet many of them went through the same feelings.

And I suspect a lot of people who were with you in Arizona are having similar experiences now. And they'll have them for a while. And I hope they get through it as well and as quickly as they can.

Call if you get a moment.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Kim

    "Positive cooperative and comprehensive relationship." China stay in the boat with the US and say no to uranium enrichment. Hillary Clinton recoverd from her fall boarding the plane.Meanwhile, may we have our US light bulb manufacture back from China ? "We're all in this boat together." Yes and the US manufactures are sinking.The 100% polyester drapery fabric that has a touch of energy independence is cheesie and no hard feelings but the US needs the textile industry back.Where is our navy fabric for curtains in America at a reasonable price in retail stores and what is this weird fabric that's suppose to be an energy savings that China calls 100% polyester and their lined in some funky something for energy independence. How many American woman can't talk their husbands into custume window treatments and can't find navy blue curtains made in the USA with real fabric ? Line the curtains so the sun doesn't come in and charge $9.00. Five stores later and no curtains in a navy fabric but we found made in China navy fake fabric curtains.We need our US textile manufactures back today please.Don't ship the US cheesie quality or the boat will rock.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  2. Susan Barnes

    Obama's memorial speech was one of hope for brotherhood in the aftermath of this horrific tragedy. Even THAT is criticized. Envisioning the world through the eyes of child and what our world could be like if only we could feel the joy of peace and love as they do. Peace and Love ... how sad and tragic that so many people just don't get it! My heart goes out to the heartbroken families of loved ones lost and to the heroes who should be an inspiration to us all! God bless the President and God have mercy on the United States of America!

    January 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  3. Kim

    Way to go Obama !

    January 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm |