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Obama visits surviving victims in Tucson, plans to speak at memorial service

Colleagues pay tribute to wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during the president's State of the Union address as the Arizona lawmaker begins the next phase of her recovery at a rehab facility in Houston.

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Sandra Kimmelman, 53, said she took the day off from her job at the Pima County tax accessor's office to come hear Obama. She said people in line had given her candy, water and shared their pizza with her.

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"There's a sense of community," she said. "I came because I want to hear Obama say we as a nation are all mourning and that we need to fight violence with love and peace. We need to be unified. 9-11 was the most horrific thing that happened to our nation. This comes close."

Nicole Siegel, a freshman at the University of Arizona who is from Columbia, Md., said she was excited to hear Obama speak.

"I am happy to see he's taking this seriously and isn't just staying in the White House," she said, wearing a light blue T-shirt with a picture of Obama on it.

(SEE PHOTOS: The aftermath of the Tucson tragedy)

But in this traditionally conservative state where the administration has been at odds with Gov. Jan Brewer over immigration policy, some residents would rather Obama stay home.

"We don't need that," Ray Algeal, 50, a plumber, said as he fretted about the traffic jams that the president's visit could cause. "It's going to be a fiasco."

Still, many people here said they are eager to attend the service, saying being together with others helps them heal.

"I'm hurting for the community," Bobbie Murray, 62, said as she left an earlier service. "I'm a Tucsonian. I considered Tucson a very tolerant place. It hurts. It hurts a lot. It's going to help my healing process."

Across Tucson, family members of victims and those who did not know the fallen have been coming together in hushed churches to grieve.

Under high security at St. Odilia Catholic Church here Tuesday evening, more than 1,000 mourners paid tribute to Christina Taylor Green at her family's church, just a mile up the road from the strip mall where Saturday's shooting rampage took place.

With the slain third-grader's family in the front pew, the young girls whom Green sang with in choir delivered an emotional rendition of "Amazing Grace" that brought tears to many eyes.


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