A unified state of the union: Obama’s 2011 Address

President Barack Obama issued his 2011 State of the Union Address differently than he and other presidents had in years past. With Vice President Joe Biden and the new Speaker of the House John Boehner seated behind him, the president gave a speech at the Capitol Building in front of Congress.

The difference on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, was the tone and atmosphere of the audience receiving the speech.

The president gave his address in light of the recent assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, in Tucson, Arizona a shooting in which six people lost their lives including 9-year-old Christina Green, and 14 sustained injuries.

Congresswoman Gifford’s absence Tuesday night was noted by the president, “As we mark this occasion, we’re also mindful of the empty chair in this chamber, and we pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend,” president Obama said.

In years past, the State of the Union has been seated with Democrats separated from Republicans. This year, things were different. Congressmen and women sat in what could be labeled a “mixed formation.” Representatives and senators chose to set aside party differences and intermingled with each other.

President Obama summarized this coalescence by saying, “There’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passion and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.”

“We are part of the American family,” Obama said. “We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.”

President Obama gave a multifaceted speech, remarking on prominent issues on the minds of Americans today, from the recently passed Healthcare Reform Bill to terrorism to jobs to education reform. These issues, he said, will determine “whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but the light to the world.”

President Obama concluded his speech by saying, “The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it’s because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.”

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