In terms of emotional oomph, the only thing that topped Kirk Adams' opening speech was Rep. Steve Farley's recounting of Saturday's events (especially moving was his telling of how his daughter spent an hour in the ER holding the hand of Gabrielle Giffords' mom). I don't have Farley's comments (I hope one of the MSM outlets present today posts a recording of them), but I do have a copy of Adams' speech.
From an email, the text of the speech -
As I assume this office of Speaker, a little more than 48 hours separate us from that horrific act of violence in Tucson. The very hand of evil has touched our state, taking innocent life, and causing injury to both body and soul.I may never say anything positive about Adams again, and almost certainly will never agree with him politically, but on Monday, January 10, 2011, let the record show that I said this -
This was an act meant not only to kill, but also to incite terror in the hearts of Arizonans and all Americans. I am certain that parents all across Arizona found themselves trying to answer unanswerable questions from children seeking comprehension of the incomprehensible. I am also certain, that many parents found themselves in the same situation as I found myself Saturday night, soothing my own child’s fears and offering assurances of safety.
Like you, my heart aches for those whose lives have been directly and forever changed. Rep. Gabby Giffords served in this very body, then in the Senate across the mall, and finally the United States Congress. She stood on this floor and took the same oath of office that we just took; offering up herself, like you, to service for Arizona and our Nation, following in the great American tradition of citizen legislators.
Many of us in this body know Gabby personally. It may be as an acquaintance, a colleague, a friend, or a mentor. Gabby and I both share the honor of being Rodel Fellows. I last spoke with Gabby at a small dinner of Arizona Rodel Fellows at a private home here in Phoenix last April. There are many attributes of Gabby Giffords, but that night I was struck by her grace and kindness. May God grant us the miracle of her recovery.
Equal in tragedy is the injury to 13 others. We join our pleas to the pleas of their friends and family. May God guide their caretakers, comfort their families, and restore their health.
We are horrified at the loss of six innocent lives: Judge John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Dorothy Murray, Dorwin Stoddard, Phyllis Scheck, and Christina Taylor Green, age 9. Having experienced myself the unrelenting sorrow of the loss of a child, my heart joins with the Green family in the grief they now feel.
In great contrast to how we feel now, today was a day designated for celebration. The opening of the 50th Legislature, the Centennial Legislature. Plans were carefully made, special programs printed, and speeches written. We even returned to the House some of the portraits and artifacts of our own history, to give us a sense of place and to inspire us as we plan for Arizona’s second century.
Instead of remembering our history, we now find ourselves living history. And like all history, there are good times and bad, lightness and darkness. This is a dark day indeed.
So close to the horrible day, our emotions feel like a scorching fire. Anger, grief, fear. Our thoughts swirl with the question…why? We may never really know the inner workings of a mad mind and a numb soul. But in the end the why question does not matter nearly as much as the “what now” question. What now can we do to treasure life and each other a little more? What does this bitter experience teach us?
For me, it is a cold reminder that life is precious and faint. That no one can be assured what the future will hold. That second chances to seek forgiveness and repair relationships sometimes never come. That the defining difference between civil society and anarchy is the ability to respect and value those with whom we disagree.
It is my prayer that this lesson re-learned will be evident in the communications of this body and in our society.
Finally, to the assembled media and the ubiquitous pundits listening, I would like to add this: Arizona is a beautiful state, with great people. Our state was built from dusty deserts and rough terrain. We are a hearty people, a determined people. We will grieve for our dead, pray for our injured, and hope in our future. And through this tragedy we will become stronger and build a better Arizona for our second century.
Per House Rules I request that these remarks, written by my own hand, be included in the Journal of January 10, 2011.
Kirk Adams changed job titles today, shedding the mantle of "politician," ascending to "statesman."