tv America Tonight Al Jazeera September 22, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm EDT
>> they loved the navy. they loved the fleet. the fleet that they helped build and sustain. >> once again, they have the ceremony under way. one week since the gunman open fired at the nation' navy yard e nation's capitol. we'll live in. >> the report that no service men were killed. just civilians and contractors. and that is flat wrong. these patriots designed and built our ships. they sustained and set the standards for our ships. they connected us to each other and to the fleet, and they protected and sustained our
headquarters. these 12 members of our navy team, our navy family, they were killed in the line of duty. they died in service to our navy, in service just a that the committed to just as any of us in uniform. for that service we honor them. for that service we will never forget them. i salute these american heroes. >> i want to bring in my colleague who is joining us from
washington, where she is just outside of the ceremony. if you will, jeanne, give us a preview of what we can expect throughout the hour. >> well, they're expecting 4,000 people to attend the service here to commemorate those 12 individuals who were killed here last monday. there were an array of speakers on the roster to speak. among them secretary of defense, and even joint chief of staff general dempsey will speak. we don't know the substance of president obama's remarks yet, and whether or not he will touch on the issue of gun control. these are things he has come back to in other shooting events in this country.
whether he'll raise it here, we certainly don't know. gun control has been bus pushedk in national conversation. wayne la pierre blames what happened here as poor security and he wants to blame the mental health system that would flag people's oh problems or keep them off the street. but that's certainly not going to end the debate on whether there need to be tougher background checks. the question is whether anything can be accomplished. the president did push forward something earlier this year in congress, but it was not successful. >> all right, geanne, thank you. stand by for just a moment. we'll get back to the navy yard memorial after a very quick break. >> we're reviewing the response to learn as many lessons as we
can from this event. but there's one lesson that is already abundantly clear. arthur daniels was 51 years old, and that day the simple act of going to work, going to work in the morning cost him his life. priscilla told me that going to work cost him his life. but it's a fact of life which we must stop accepting. the navy yard, sandy hook,
aurora, virginia tech, columbine, the streets of our cities. why is it that these tragic consequences and these tragic occurrences never seem to move us any closer to insuring that guns don't get into the hands of criminals or mentally unstable people? i don't know the answer, but i do know this, that this time it happened within the view of our capitol dome, and i for one will not be violent about the fact that the time has come for action. thank you.
>> ladies and gentlemen, as the admiral indicated we lost 12 teammates. these were members of our navy family. these were our ship mates. they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters going to work to provide for their families and serve their nation. you know, the nature of our navy family is that we serve together, and we depend on each other in times of need. we celebrate each other's successes and our triumphs, and we grieve together in times of sorrow. now these ship mates dedicated their careers to building and maintaining the finest navy in the world.
they worked along side one another for a purpose greater than themselves. simply put, they are the best naval engineering team i in the world. they planned budgets, researched, designed, and built our future. this team is the genesis of the united states sea power. it all starts here. but above all else they are part of the navy, and navy strength has been and will continue to be the resilience and endurance of our people during times of crisis. whether in an attack on pearl harpearlharbor, the result is wl
together when damage strikes. it was apparent in the actions of, for example, a navy shipmate who happened to be a former hospital corp man who carried out one of the they are fallen . this is what defines the navy family. ship mates taking care of ship mates. we will take care of the fallen and become stronger as an institution maintaining the world's finest navy. to the families here and our navy yard ship mates we mourn with you stay. we stand with you in the difficult times ahead.
as a family we grieve together. together we hav we will assure t they like those who go on before them will be honored as heroes because that is what they are, heroes. ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. an ordinary monday became a day of extraordinary horror, but also extraordinary heroism as officers and first responders ran to give aid and protect one another, friends, strangers, away from danger even at the risk of their own lives. we memorialize those we lost and honor the heroes we have here today. the courage we witnessed on monday did not end with the closing on that awful day. on tuesday people return to their work, and by thursday when
much of the navy yard reopened thousands whose lives had been in real peril three days before would not let fear keep them away. still we know it will take time for those with wounds, visible or invisible, to heal. the shock and anger of what occurred on monday will take us time to deal with this act of evil defies comprehension, defies understanding. 12 wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, children, workmates, colleagues, taken from us suddenly, violently. but what can never be taken is the love and our memories, and we--and as we remember these
individuals we cherish, it should not be as victims. their lives should not be defined by the terrible inexplicable way they were ended, but rather how they lived and the rich legacies each of them left. and these are unique individua individuals. as i have spoken to their families and friends and common threads emerge, love of family and of country, the value and pride played on working for america and the values that others placed on their work and on their lives today, one by one, we will hear their names and remember them and mourn. they join so many navy and marine corp heroes whose lives,
indeed, shine forever bright. we remain forever courageous, for faithful. >> once again you're watching the navy yard memorial where 4,000 people have gathered here. this is the washington marine bear ricks just blocks where 12 people were horrifically gunned down. let's listen to secretary chuck hagel. >> mr. president, mrs. obama, among those serving across the nation and all over the world, i want to express our deepest sympathy to the families here today. no that our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
today we come together at this historic post to begin a long road of healing and recovery. it is a path we walk together. we walk with the families, all who loved the fallen, to help ease the pain, hoping that grief and sadness will one day leave, and cherish memories of those we love will take it's place. we help those who struggle with this senseless act of violence regain their strength. and together we will recover. we will remember the first responders. we will remember all. the first responders who ran towards the sounds of gunfire, including officers scott williams, injured in the line of duty. we will remember the valor of the navy yard personnel, all the
people in the building 197. and we will remember that in the face of tragedy the united states navy is once again responding with is he involve as we remember the fallen, we note the timeliness of th finallinesy supported. we remember our family and friends today, and god bless our country. >> once again you're listening to the honorable charles hagel, secretary of defense. we're anticipating president obama in a moment and the 4,000 invited guests.
let's listen in. >> secretary hagel, secretary mavis, admirals grenard and valardes. mayor gray, and leaders across this city, and armed forces, to all the outstanding first responders, most of all, the families whose hearts have been broken. we cannot begin to comprehend your loss. we know that no words we offer today are equal to the magnitude, to the depths of that loss. we come together as a grateful nation to honor your loved ones,
to grieve with you, and to offer as best we can some solace and some comfort. on the night that we lost martin luther king jr. to a gunman's bullet, robert kennedy stood before a stunned and angry crowd in indianapolis, and he broke the terrible news. in the anguish of that moment he turned to the words of an ancient greek poet, even in our sleep pain, which we cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart until in our own despair against our will comes wisdom through the awful grace
of god. pain, which cannot forget, drop by drop upon the heart. the tragedy and the pain that brings us here today is extraordinary. it is unique. the lives that were taken from us were unique. the memories that their loved ones carry are unique, and they will carry them and endure long after the news cameras are gone. but part of what wears on as well the sense that this has happened before. part of what wears on us, what troubles us so deeply as we gather here today is how this senseless violence that took
place in the navy yard echos other recent tragedies. as president i have now grieved with five american community ripped apart by mass violence: fort hood, tucson, aurora, sandy hook, and now the washington navy yard. these mass shootings occur against the backdrop of daily tragedies, as an epidemic of gun violence tears apart communities across america from the streets of chicago to neighborhoods not far from here. and so once again we remember our fellow americans, who are just going about their day, doing their jobs, doing what they loved.
in this case, the unheralded work that keeps our country strong and the navy the finest fleet in the world. these patriots doing the work that they were so proud of now taken away from us by unspeakable violence. once more we come together to mourn the lives of beauty and comfort the wonderful families who cherish them. once more we pay tribute to all who rushed towards the danger, who risked their lives so others might live, and who are in our prayers today including officer scott williams. once more our hearts are broken. once more we ask why. once more we seek strength and wisdom through god's grace.
you and your families, this navy family, are still in the early hour of your grief. i'm here today to say that there is nothing routine about this tragedy. there is nothing routine about your loss. your loved ones will not be forgotten. they will endure in the hearts of the american people and in the hearts of the navy that they helped to keep strong, in the hearts of their coworkers, friends, and their neighbors. i want them to know how she lived, jessica gaarde said of her daughter kathy. she is not a number nor a statistic. none of these 12 fellow americans are statistics. today i want every american to see how these men and women lived. you may never have met them, but
you know them. they're your neighbors. like arthur daniels out on the weekend polishing his white crown victoria. and kenneth proctor with his yellow mustang when if asked he would fix your car, too. she was the friendly face at the store, sylvia frasier with her unforgettable gold hair who took a second job at walmart because she just loved people. kathy gaarde loved her hockey and her cats. there were the volunteers who made your community better. frank kohler giving dictionaries to every third grader in his county. marty boudre teaching bible
study at church. vishnu pandit left everything he knew in india and came here to raise his family and gave everything of himself to the united states navy. make arnold, who became one the navy's leading architects. one of his colleagues said no one knew those ships like him. they were dedicated as far as f. they were loving mothers like mary francis knight, devoted to her daughters, and who had just
watched with joy as her older daughter got married. they were doting grandparents like john johnson, always smiling, giving bear hugs to his ten grandchildren and who would have welcomed his 11th grandchild this fall. these are not statistics. they are the lives that have been taken from us. this is how far a single act of violence can ripple. a husband has lost his wife. wives have lost their husbands. sons and daughters have lost their moms and their dads. little children have lost their grandparents. hundreds in our communities have lost a neighbor, and thousands here have lost a friend. as has been mentioned for one
family, the daniels family, old wounds are opened again. priscilla lost her husband, only 30 years ago another shooting took the life of their son, only 14 years old. i can't believe this is happening again, priscilla says. these families have endured a shattering tragedy. it out to be a shock to all of us as a nation and as a people. it ought to upset us. it ought to lead to some sort of transfer imagination. that's what happens in other countries when they experience similar tragedies. in the united kingdom, in australia. when just a single mass shooting
occurred in those countries, they understood there was nothing ordinary about this type of carnage. they endured heartbreak, but they also mobilized and they changed. and mass shootings became a great rarity. yet, here in the united states after the round-the-clock coverage on cable news, after the heartbreaking interviews with families, after all the speeches and all the punditry and all the commentary nothing happens. along side the anguish of these american families, along side the accumulated outrage so many of us feel, sometimes i fear there is a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just some how the way it is. that this is some how the new
normal. we can't accept this. as americans bound in grief and love, we must insist here today there is nothing normal about innocent men and women being gunned down where they work. there is nothing normal about our children being gunned down in their classrooms. there is nothing normal about children dying in our streets from stray bullets. no other advance nation endures this kind of violence. none. here in america the murder rate is three times what it is in other developed nations. the murder rate with guns is ten times what it is in other developed nations. there is nothing inevitable about it. it comes about because of
decisions we make or fail to make. it falls upon us to make it different. sometimes it takes an unexpected voice to break through, to help remind us what we know to be true. we heard one of those voices last week. dr. janice orlowski's team at the hospital center treated the wounded. iin the midst of one of her briefings she spoke honestly as someone who treats daily and nightly carnage. all the shootings, she said, this is not america. it is a challenge to all of us, she said, and we have to work together to get rid of this.
that's the wisdom we should be taking away from this tragedy and so many others. not accepting these shooting as inevitable, but asking what can we do to prevent them from happening again and again and again. i've said before we cannot stop every act of senseless violence. we cannot know every evil that lurks in troubled minds, but if we can prevent even one tragedy like this, save even one life, spare other families what these families are going through, surely we've got an obligation to try. it's true that each of the tragedies i mentioned is different, and in this case it's clear we need to do a better job of securing our military facilities. deciding who gets access to
them, and as commander in chief i've ordered a review of procedures up and down the chain, and i know secretary hagel is moving aggressively on that. as a society it's clear we've got to do a better job of insuring those who neat mental healthcare actually get t and in those efforts we don't stigmatize those who need help. those things clear, and we've got to move to address them. but we americans are not inherently more violent people than folks in other countries. we're not inherently more prone to mental health problems. the main difference that sets our nation apart, what makes us so susceptible to so many mass shootings is that we don't do enough, we don't take the basic common-sense actions to keep
guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. what's different in america is easy to get your hands on a gun. a lot of us know this. but the politics are difficult, as we saw again this spring. that's sometimes where the resignation comes from. the sense that our politics are frozen and that nothing will change. well, i cannot accept that. i do not accept that we do not find a common-sense way to preserve our tradition, the rights of law abiding gun owners while at the same time reduce the gun violence that unleashes so much mayhem that occurs on a regular basis. it may not happen tomorrow, it
may not happen next week, it may not happen next month, but it will happen, it's the change that we need and its supported by the majority of americans. by now, though, it should be clear that the change we need will not come from washington even when tragedy strikes washington. change will come the only way it has ever come, and that is by the american people. so the question now is whether as americans we care in moments of tragedy. clearly we care. our hearts are broken again. we care so deeply about these families, but the question is do we care enough? do we care enough to keep standing up for the country that we know is possible even if it's hard, and even if it's politically uncomfortable. do we care enough to sustain the
passion and the pressure to make our communities safer and our countries safer? do we care enough to do everything we can to spare our families the pain that is felt here today. our tears are not enough. our words and our prayers are not enough. if we really want to honor these 12 men and women, if we really want to be a country where we can go to work and go to school and walk our streets free from senseless violence without so many lives being stolen by a bullet and from a gun, then we're going to have to change. we're going to have to change. on monday morning these 12 men and women woke up like they did
every day. they left home, and they headed off to work. gerald reed's wife said, see you tonight for dinner. john johnson said to his wife the same thing he always said when he departed, good night, beautiful, i love you so much. even in our sleep pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until in our own despair against our will comes wisdom through the awful grace of god. what robert kennedy understan u, what dr. king understood, what other great leaders understood, wisdom does not come from tragedy alone or some sense of resignation in the fallibility of man, wisdom comes from the
recognition that tragedies like this are not inevitable, and we possess the ability to act and spare others the drops of pain that are on our hearts. so in our grief let us seek that grace. let us find that wisdom, and in doing so, let us truly honor these 12 american patriots. may got hold close the souls taken from us and grant them eternal peace. may he comfort and watch over these families, and may god grant us the strength and wisdom to keep safe our united states of america. >> president obama speaking before the invited 4,000 guests
saying once more our hearts are broken as 12 lives are being remembered right now. i want to bring in to discuss the navy yard memorial services al jazeera american national security contributor jj green, and kim russell, national director of outreach from moms demand action for gun sense in america. thank you to both of you for joining us. jj to you first, your reaction to the president's remarks? >> it was very clear that he is upset about the continued shootings that have taken place on his watch. you know, he spoke about obviously the grief, the condolences. he spoke about the heroism and he spoke about the speeches. but then he spoke about that pattern that we get right back in to almost before the event itself has grown old, and that is the refusal to make any changes. he says that he refuses to
accept that and that's something that seemed to be very painful to him, and some of the other speakers today, mayor gray from the district echoed the same thing. they appear to be just beside themselves in grief for the families, and also because of the fact that they haven't, and the president specifically been able to stop this process that keeps opening the door, he believes, to this kind of violence. >> kim, you know about this pain all too well. you are a victim of gun violence. >> yes, i was. >> tell me about that, 1999? >> yes, four days after columbine, which is a shocking coincidence of mass shooting. my friend was a high school teacher, and we talked about his fears about his students, and recognizing perhaps something that could set them off. he was worried about their safety and his safety, and we left dinner to go to another event. we were robbed. my friend was killed, and i was
grazed by a bullet. >> when you hear about these tragedies, and the president mentioned past tragedies, and when you hear about them over and over again what goes through your mind? >> it is far beyond time for congress to act. sitting in the studio and looking at the faces of this new round of victims it is heartbreaking because i know it goes beyond them. they all have parents, children, nieces, nephews, cousins, gun violence ripples. it goes out and it.s so many people beyond the actual victim. it never goes away. it never leaves. i'm just wondering to myself, which of these victims is going to come forward in a month, two months and join me on stage at press conferences with other victims telling stories. i can't tell you how many times i meet people like me all over
the country. we're tired of telling our story. we're tired of doing this. it is not easy. it's time for our congress to show the courage that we all show and stand up to this. >> jj the president echoed those words that kim just mentioned. were you surprised at all that the president in his remarks mentioned that more needs to be done? >> no, not at all because even though it hasn't been a major platform in his administration, it's been running in the background throughout his administration. he mentioned five events including the navy yard that have all been through these devastating shootings that shocked the nation and we've watched them unfold. how is it that it's happening this way in the u.s.? i'm not surprised at all. this is something that he made very clear from the very beginning that he wants stopped. but he's also very, very pained
by the fact that you santa seem to find a way to get beyond the political process. >> but where do we go from here? we have columbine, aurora, the navy yard shooting. where do we go from here? >> i understand where the navy is going from here, i understand that they're going to head up a review at the pentagon to figure out what has to be done and what can be done. what everyone is talking about in the law enforcement community, the mental health community is everyone taking a closer look at what is happening, why it's happening, and asking themselves the question of what can i do to stop it. that's the one thing that i think all across the board is being done in the national security community. the question what can i do to make a difference? >> kim, you have devoted much of your life now for change. what changes would you like to
see when it comes to gun control. >> the easiest change that could happen tomorrow is expanding background check system. this could greatly reduce gun violence across the country. we need to look at what the criteria are that disqualifies a person from getting a gun. aaron alexis should not have gotten a gun. he passed the pass ground check even though he had to misdemeanors involving a gun. in california that would not have happened. we need to make it hard for get a gun. >> what would your message being moving forward? >> like i said, a macgroun a bad check system, it's a no-brainer. all we have to do is get our congress to cosign the same bill that the senate failed to pass
in april. it is so simple. it does not infringe on anyone's second amendment rights. it is beyond me that it has not happened yet. it has been nine months since sandy hook happened, and nothing has been done on a federal level. it's atrocious. >> jj, has the system failed us in a sense? >> yes, from a reporter's point of view i can tell you that i've covered a number of shootings. so you know, in the last few years there have been a number of shootings, and the pattern seems to rebea repeat itself. now whether or not politicians are doing the right thing i cannot answer that question, but i can tell you from a national security and law enforcement and intelligence perspective, people are very tired of facing the same thing. and recognize, too, in this situation that took place on monday, and taking aaron alexis out of the equation, there was very little that could have been done at point of impact to stop
him. that's something that is very difficult for folks in the national security and intelligence community to come to at this point. >> kim, what are these families going through right now? what are they dealing with? >> they're dealing with hell. there is nothing worse than losing a loved one. it is just--i can't even imagine what they're going through. you go through shock. you're in fog. i suffered from post traumatic stress disorder for years, and still have occasional bouts of it. it resurfaced after sandy hook happened. it never goes away. you never recover from the loss of a loved one, especially from gun violence. >> the president just a moment ago talking about the past tragedies. let's listen in. >> as president i have now grieved with five american communities ripped apart by mass violence: fort hood, tucson,
aurora, sandy hook, and now the washington navy yard. these mass shootings occur against a backdrop of daily tragedies as an epidemic of gun violence tears apart communities across america from the streets of chicago to neighborhoods not far from here. >> jj, the president also saying these 12 lives are not statistics. what have we learned from this latest mass shooting? >> we have learned that again one of the nation's most important and certainly productive military installations can be a victory of this type of violence. most folks don't think of that kind of violence hitting a military base. fort hood was not an anomaly ws
the message we heard here. it stretches across the board. this is probably the one case that a lot of people go every single day thinking hey, i'm safer here than i am in any other place, going to a military base. it says to us that at this point in our society there is no place that appears to be immune from this type of violence. adults, children, politicians, you name it, this is the message that these shootings keep sending us, and the one that took place at the navy yard sent a strong message again at the military. >> tell me about your organization "moms for action." >> a woman went on line looking for mothers against drunk driving for gun reform. she couldn't find one and she started a facebook page.
we started it the next day. mothers across the country are outraged. the more we learn about what is going on, the more we learn about the easy access people have to guns in this country, and it's not just mass shootings. it's day-to-day gun violence. it's gun violence in chicago. it's happening all over the place. when we learn more about how easy individuals who shouldn't have guns can get their hands on guns, we're disgusted. something must be done and it must be done now. i was in washington last week attending meetings on preventing gun violence. and there was this gun violence. it just never stops. >> kim and jj i want to you listen to another remark by the president and get your thoughts. let's listen.
>> we can't accept this. we must insist here today there is nothing normal about innocent men and women being gunned down where they work. there is nothing normal about our children being gunned down in their classrooms. there is nothing normal about children dieing in our streets from stray bullets. no other advanced nation endures this kind of violence, none. >> there is nothing normal about this, jj, yet it continues to happen. >> one of the things that keeps happening is when these episodes take place most of the general public is shocked, and just beyond belief and grieved as we rightfully should be. but covering national security and law enforcement on a daily basis, i can tell you for sure every single day, at least every week or two there is some kind of bulletin, some kind of roll
call notice that is sent out to these folks in the first responder community warning about the possibility of these kinds of things. warning about the possibility of some kind of domestic terror attack involving guns or some other type of scenario. so what the president and what everyone else is facing and dealing with is a culture that not everyone american views, kimberly out there and doing yeoman's work, but there is a heck of a lot more going on behind the scenes that people don't know about, and how big a threat, and how big a risk is going on in this country putting people at risk for this type of situation on a daily basis. >> jj, in your reporting where does the national rifle association fall into the mix. >> they don't. most likely just looking at where i report and what i report, i don't get into
political issues, but what i do is report on operational and active situations. this is one that th the national rifle association, the name comes up a few times, and people have their points of view. but at the end of the day i'm sure the national rifle association, as everyone else in this situation, is looking at this and thinking there has to be something that we can do to fix this. >> are you surprised, kim, by the strong opposition against gun control in this country? >> yes, that wa we are a strongd loud minority. i can tell you what wayne lapierre had to say this morning on "meet the press." his answer is the same old-same old, more guns is the answer. our organization feels that absolutely more guns is not the answer.
if more guns was the answer, we would be the safest country in the world. it is not the solution. >> as a victim of gun violence what would you say to organizations like the nra? >> well, first of all i feel like a lot of people speak about gun violence as if they've experienced it, and i can tell you from firsthand had i had a gun on me the night of my incident i most certainly would be dead right now. your brain reacts in very strange way when you're in extreme danger. your motor skills that you rely on every day just disappears. unless you're training with a weapon over and over and over again you are not going to have the wherewithal to shoot and aim and hit your target. what is likely going to happen is you're going to hurt yourself or an innocent bystander. even our trained new york city police officers only hit their targets 34% of the time. these are trained police officers. so how is your average citizen
just walking down the street with a weapon supposed to have that type of training? to do the right thing? it is just not going to happen. more guns are not the answer. what we need to do is deal with the accessibility. there is mental health problems in every country. there are violent video games in every country. our country is very similar in most ways except for the accessibility. >> what would you say to the argument that for the most part people with guns are safe? there are those who are mentally ill, those who are unstable who possess guns. >> we have to work hard to make sure that these people do not get guns. those are one of the things that we're working so hard to do. that's why we feel an expanded background check would reduce the violence that is happening. >> jj, the president is calling for an overview of the
procedures. can you tell us more about that? >> yes, as we mentioned earlier, one of the things that is going to take place, indeed, it has started over, ashton carter has started a review at the pentagon. should we hear names of people who will participate in that review process. i was told recently that this will take time less time than more. in other words, it's going to wrap up sooner than later because authorities and officials at the pentagon want to get something going here and get some progress, make some progress on this, but again one of the things that they're being painfully confronted with again is that they don't see very many ways that they can change very many things at least as they are on the security front from an operational point of view to prevent what happened from happening once he gets to that base. now in terms of clearances there is a lot going on on that front, and i'm expecting there could be
a lot of changes specifically with reference who gets to do those clearances and how they're done. >> kim, your final thoughts on today's ceremonies? >> well, i'm pleased president obama is reignited this gun issue. it needs to happen. >> jj green, thank you for joining us. honoring the victims of navy yard massacre. more from nairobi in two minutes. stay with us.
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