warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Marketing The Together We Thrive Memorial

Christine Detz |
January 13, 2011 | 8:11 p.m. PST

Associate News Editor

Together We Thrive (Creative Commons)
Together We Thrive (Creative Commons)
It has been almost a week since the shooting spree in Tucson that left six dead, including a 9-year-old girl, and wounded more than a dozen others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. 

 The shockwave of “why” that rolled across the nation has been replaced by “where do we go from here” conversations, culminating in Wednesday’s “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America” memorial. My feelings regarding the memorial are mixed. 

Although it was extremely important for President Obama to visit Tucson and address the nation, I’m just a little uncomfortable about the way it was done. I have never heard of a memorial service being branded with a name. 

 “Together We Thrive” – really?  It sounds a bit too campaign-like for my liking and frankly, it left a bad taste in my mouth. 

 Imagine my horror when I turned on my television and saw people in the crowd wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan! The whole scene was reminiscent of a campaign rally, all that was missing were the chants of “yes we can.” An event that was supposed to be apolitical came off as exactly the opposite at times.

I am sure others had a similar reaction. A common complaint I have heard and seen about the event is that it seemed more like a pep rally than a memorial. In fact I received the following text messages from my best friend during the event:

“Would you please go to Arizona and remind people in Tucson that they’re at a memorial and not a pep rally?” This message was followed with “the meaningless audience participation is as bad as the State of the Union. Just be quiet and listen.”

People grieve in a myriad of ways, I understand that, but the atmosphere felt disrespectful considering recent events in Tucson.  President Obama had an unenviable task and lest anyone think I am being overly critical of the memorial and/or the president, there were some things he got right. 

President Obama urged the nation to have a healthy discourse, not to place blame on those who think differently from you, and perhaps most importantly, not to rush to judgment. 

“For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do.”

In essence, President Obama was asking everyone in America to tone down the rhetoric, I just wish he and the organizers of the memorial had heeded the same advice.


Reach Christine Detz here



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.