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Mr. MATHESON. Madam Speaker, on Saturday morning in Tucson, it started out in a very good way. It started out with a number of people who wanted to engage in one of the great American traditions, a tradition of our government which is that we have a discussion of ideas. That is what America is about, a competition of ideas. And so we had Congresswoman Giffords and we had her staff and we had members of the community gather. That is a positive start to that day. Of course that positive start was destroyed by the tragic acts which have been recounted by so many on the floor.
We all step back in shock and horror and sadness at what took place in Tucson. It is an attack on the individuals that clearly affects all of their lives. It is also an attack on what this country is about. It is important that as we hope and pray for the recovery of the victims, and we hope and pray for understanding for the families of the victims, and we mourn the loss of those who perished that day, it is important that we also recognize that they were great Americans who were there to exercise their right of assembly, and the great American tradition which represents what this government is all about, which is we can sit down and have discussions. We can disagree with each other. It is okay to disagree with each other. That is the strength of this country. That is the idea behind America, that we have the opportunity to look for the best ideas from wherever they come.
When it comes to public service, it would be good for all of us to recognize the ideals of our colleague, Gabby Giffords. She was a good friend, a good colleague, someone who had the right ideas and motivations when she first got to Congress, and continues to represent those motivations. She is someone who is smart, articulate, looking to solve problems, and someone who knew how to be compassionate for her constituents.
I think everybody in this well probably knows a story where Gabby talked to them about her constituents in Tucson and an issue that mattered to her. That is what impresses me about Representative Giffords. It is a model that I think we can all remember and continue to follow as we do our best for our constituents.
Madam Speaker, I close by saying I wish all the best to the families, the victims, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.
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