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“Grief Beyond Description”: In Orlando, Obama Comforts Survivors of Pulse Massacre

| June 16, 2016

obama orlando pulse

President Obama was in Orlando today. (Adam Y. Zhang)

President Barack Obama — in what is becoming an all-too-familiar role as the consoler-in-chief — spent Thursday afternoon in Orlando, comforting the family members of victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

“Their grief is beyond description,” Obama said after he and Vice President Joe Biden spent two hours at the Amway Center, meeting privately with people who lost loved ones in Sunday’s attack. “These families could be our families. In fact, they are our family. … And today the vice president and I told them, on behalf of the American people, that our hearts are broken, too.”

Obama arrived in Orlando at 12:45 pm, accompanied on Air Force One by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. Biden had arrived shortly before on Air Force Two with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. They were greeted on the tarmac by Gov. Rick Scott, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs before traveling in a motorcade to the Amway Center.

After meeting with the families, Obama and Biden went to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where they placed bouquets of 49 white roses — one for each of the people who died in the attack — at a makeshift memorial there.

After several moments of silence, Obama moved to a podium and spoke to reporters, praising the first responders and medical personnel who responded to the attack. The shooter, St. Lucie County resident Omar Mateen, was killed by police.

Obama quoted one of the doctors as saying, “After the worst of humanity reared its evil head, the best of humanity came roaring back.”

The president called for unity across party lines “to stop killers who want to terrorize us.” He vowed to be “relentless” against terrorist groups like ISIL and al-Qaida.

“We are going to destroy them,” he said. “We are going to disrupt their networks and their financing and the flow of fighters in and out of war theaters. We’re going to disrupt their propaganda that poisons so many minds around the world.”

However, he noted, the last two terrorist attacks in the United States, in Orlando and San Bernardino, were “homegrown.”

“It’s going to take more than just our military, more than just our intelligence teams,” he said. “If you have lone wolf attacks like this, hatched in the minds of disturbed persons, we’re going to have to take different kinds of steps to prevent these kinds of things from happening.”

He noted that the Pulse attack was done by “a single killer with a powerful assault rifle,” saying that while the motives may have been different than in other mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., or Aurora, Colo., “the instruments of death are similar.”

The president said he was pleased that the U.S. Senate had agreed to consider gun control measures. .

“Today, once again, as has been true too many times before, I held and hugged grieving family members and parents, and they asked, ‘Why does this keep happening?’ ” he said. “And they pleaded that we do more to stop the carnage. They don’t care about the politics — and neither do I.”

Those who defend easy access to assault weapons, he said, “should meet these families and explain why that makes sense.”

–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida

9 Responses for ““Grief Beyond Description”: In Orlando, Obama Comforts Survivors of Pulse Massacre”

  1. Knightwatch says:

    Oh well, another day in ‘Murica, murder capital of the western world. Quick and easy buy of a semi-automatic assault-type weapon. Angry, disturbed guy massacres a bunch of innocent people. President leads nation in mourning. Republicans defend guns. All too routine.

    The original Star Trek series back in the ’60’s had a episode in which an entire planet mirrored 1930’s Chicago during the gangster era. Everyone had a Tommy Gun and all disputes were settled with gunfire. Pretty prescient of Gene Roddenberry.

    Help stop the madness. Vote down the Republican/NRA Party.

  2. Lin says:

    Their grief is beyond description
    I grieve too, everyone I know is grieving for them
    But let’s grieve together
    Not divided
    I hate to hear any politicing at a time like this
    Not a time to use this awful killing to advance any agenda
    It’s an act of war

  3. Knightwatch says:

    It was not an act of war. It was an act of hate by an American citizen. And it was enabled, at least in part, by the virulent anti-LGBT rhetoric spewed by right-wing republicans and the ever christian evangelical community.

    This is a political opportunity to get congress to do something to make it much harder for would-be killers to get their hands on weapons of mass murder. But, I don’t expect much from the RepublicaNRA Party or the church. They’d much rather defend the their twisted interpretation of the 2nd amendment than protect American lives.

  4. Lin says:

    Right Knightwatch
    ISIS had nothing to do with it or the many other mass killings all over the world
    It was Republicans

    I watched so many stories of these poor victims this week and in the recent decades and it is gut-wrenching
    But by all means score political points

  5. Jim s says:

    Logic of the left: act of terror committed by a registered democrat, Muslim non NRA member must be the responsibility of Christian republican NRA members. Get a grip!

  6. Knightwatch says:

    Let the political points fall where they may. Right-wing legislators and elected officials throughout the country, but most egregiously in the god-fearing south, actively and inexcusably inflamed anti-LGBT bigotry through discriminatory laws and rhetoric. Prominent christian spokespersons, Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson come to mind, have all but called for the national exorcism of gays. That’s fact. It’s not ISIS… it’s us, right here in America.

  7. Lin says:

    Face it, you can’t make reality fit your agenda
    Republicans didn’t commit this horrendous act, a son of Afghani immigrants, Democrat Muslim did.
    R’s didn’t commit the horrors in France, Belgium, Canada, London not to mention the rest of the Middle East.
    And restrictive gun laws haven’t helped in those countries or Chicago, etc either
    Get real.

  8. Knightwatch says:

    This from one of the leaders of the christian right… “The 700 Club,” televangelist Pat Robertson reacted to the massacre at an Orlando gay club by making the absurd claim that liberal LGBT rights advocates have aligned themselves with radical Islamists and are now reaping what they have sowed. Robertson said that liberals are facing a “dilemma” because they love both LGBT equality and Islamic extremism, and that it is better for conservatives like himself not to get involved but to instead just watch the two groups kill each other. “The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.”

    Onward christian soldiers.

  9. Sherry says:

    Why is it that speaking out against the NRA is considered to be a NO, NO “political” agenda. . . but, declaring this tragedy to be an act of war isn’t?

    Why is it that famous religious leaders are making passionate accusations about political issues and advocating that our citizens be divided against one another? Why aren’t they preaching love and compassion and reminding everyone that violence begets violence?r

    This should be a time that all humans should come together to find ways to stop the murders and wars and to create love and peace. But even our religious leaders are splitting us apart.

    Take away the tools of mass murder NOW, and deal with the “whys” later!

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