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Obama visits with survivors and families in Orlando

Journal Staff Report | 6/20/2016, noon
Full Text of Remarks by President Barack Obama on June 16, 2016.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden place flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

THE PRESIDENT: Four days ago, this community was shaken by an evil and hateful act. Today, we are reminded of what is good. That there is compassion, empathy and decency, and most of all, there is love. That’s the Orlando that we’ve seen in recent days. And that is the America that we have seen.

This afternoon, the Vice President and I had the opportunity to meet with many of the families here. As you might imagine, their grief is beyond description. Through their pain and through their tears, they told us about the joy that their loved ones had brought to their lives. They talked about their sons or their daughters -- so many young people, in their 20s and 30s; so many students who were focused on the future. One young woman was just 18 years old. Another, said her father, was a happy girl with so many dreams.

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Obama delivers statement in Orlando

There were siblings there talking about their brothers and their sisters and how they were role models that they looked up to. There were husbands and wives who had taken a solemn vow; fathers and mothers who gave their full hearts to their children. These families could be our families. In fact, they are our family -- they’re part of the American family. Today, the Vice President and I told them, on behalf of the American people, that our hearts are broken, too, but we stand with you and that we are here for you, and that we are remembering those who you loved so deeply.

As a nation, we’ve also been inspired by the courage of those who risked their lives and cared for others. Partners whose last moments were spent shielding each other. The mother who gave her life to save her son. The former Marine whose quick thinking saved dozens of lives.

Joe and I had the chance to thank Mayor Dyer, Chief Mina, Sheriff Demings, all who responded in heroic ways; the outstanding police and first responders who were able to, through their professionalism and quick response, rescue so many people. We also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all the doctors, all the nurses who have worked day and night to treat the injured, save lives and prevent even more anguish. As one of the doctors here said, “after the worst of humanity reared its ugly head…the best of humanity came roaring back.” Let me get that quote more precisely -- “after the worst of humanity reared its evil head…the best of humanity came roaring back.”

Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, if, in fact, we want to show the best of our humanity, then we're all going to have to work together at every level of government, across political lines, to do more to stop killers who want to terrorize us. We will continue to be relentless against terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda. We are going to destroy them. 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.