After meeting with the families of victims in the movie theater massacre and survivors at an Aurora hospital, President Obama said his main job when meeting with them was to serve as a “representative of the entire country” to let the families and survivors know that the country is thinking about them now and will be into the future.
While the president said that words are inadequate when speaking with families who have just lost loved ones, “the awareness that not only America but the entire world is thinking about them might offer them some comfort,” he said.
“I had a chance to give folks some hugs, to shed some tears with them and also to share some laughs as they remembered the wonderful lives that these men and women represented,” the president said.
To illustrate the courage of so many in that Aurora movie theater, President Obama told the nation the story of two young friends, Allie Young, 19, and Stephanie Davies, 21, who survived the shooting because of the quick thinking of Stephanie after Allie had been hit in the neck by a bullet.
“I don’t think this story been heard—I hadn’t read it yet,” he said.
President Obama said that when gunmen burst into the theater and threw the canister containing the gas, it landed just a few feet away from Allie and Stephanie, who were sitting and watching the movie. Allie stood up—and was immediately shot in the neck.
“It punctured a vein, and immediately she started spurting blood,” said the president, who appeared to be getting emotional as he recounted the story. “As she dropped down on the floor, Stephanie had the presence of mind to drop down to the floor with her, to pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where Allie had been wounded, and apply pressure the whole time while the gunman was still shooting.”
When Allie told Stephanie she needed to run away, Stephanie refused—and used her other hand to call 911, the president said. When the shooting stopped and the SWAT team came in, Stephanie helped them carry Allie across two parking lots to the ambulance.
“Because of Stephanie’s timely actions, I just had a conversation with Allie downstairs and she’s going to be fine,” he said. “I don’t know many people at any age would have had the presence of mind to do what Stephanie did, and also the courage Allie showed… They represent what’s best in us and assure us that out of this darkness, a brighter day will come.”
The president quoted scripture from Revelation 21:4, which talks about how God comforts the mourning.
“Scripture says He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,” the president said. “Neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more for the former things have passed away.”
“When you have an opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones, as I describe to them I come to them not so much as a president as I do a father and a husband,” he said. “I think the reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be like to have somebody we love taken from us in this fashion.”
The president at the end of his speech asked the nation to “reflect how we can do something about the senseless violence that ends up marring this country but also about the wonderful people that make this the greatest country on earth.”