'Together We Thrive'
Event details: Obama to speak at Tucson memorial
President Barack Obama will speak Wednesday at a memorial event in remembrance of the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting, and in support of the victims’ families and friends.
"Together We Thrive: Tucson and America," will take place at the University of Arizona’s McKale Center at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the campus and greater Tucson community.
The event, expected to last around an hour, will include a Native American blessing, a moment of silence, a poetry reading and the presentation of a chain featuring messages from members of the public. Gov. Jan Brewer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano are also scheduled to speak.
Doors will open at 4 p.m., and university officials have urged those who would like to attend to arrive early, as there will be increased security in light of the president's presence at the event.
For safety and security reasons, certain items are prohibited, including laptop computers, sharp objects and metal or plastic drink bottles. The public is asked to not bring backpacks, bags or large purses. No posters or signs of any size will be permitted. No food or drink can be carried in. Small cameras will be permitted inside.
In the event the 14,000-seat McKale Center reaches capacity, overflow seating will be available in Arizona Stadium, where seats on the stadium's east side will be open. Video of the memorial will be shown on the scoreboard's big screen. Video also will be streamed live on the Arizona Public Media website.
Paper to write messages will be provided to people waiting in line. They will be joined into a paper chain that will be displayed on campus at a later time. Well-wishers may also visit the UA Mall on Wednesday afternoon to write messages on the chain that will be presented later that night. The effort is being spearheaded by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.
The following streets will be closed to the public on Wednesday: Fred Enke Drive, between North Campbell Avenue and National Championship Drive, and University Boulevard, between North Cherry Avenue and North Campbell Avenue. Parking will be unavailable along Cherry Avenue and in Lot 6098. There will be limited availability in the Cherry Avenue Garage.
Recommended parking areas for the public include campus lots south of Sixth Street, as well as the Sixth Avenue Garage and Park Avenue Garage. Parking in those areas is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
To help avoid avoid parking issues on campus, Suntran is providing free shuttles to the memorial. Shuttles will leave from the northeast El Con Mall lot or east side of Hi Corbett Field in Reid Park beginning at 2 p.m.
Specific questions about parking can be directed to UA Parking & Transportation Services, 520-626-7275, and campus parking maps are available on the university website.
Sign language interpreters and captioning will be available at the event, as well as a wheelchair-accessible seating area. Specific questions about access can be directed to the University's Disability Resource Center, 520-621-3268.
Roberto De Vido is a communications consultant, writer, cartoonist and jack of many trades. The former chief of Tucson Sentinel’s East Asia Bureau, he now lives in California (make of that what you will).