Dear parents,

Like so many Americans all across the country, Barack and I were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of violence committed in Arizona this past weekend.  Yesterday, we had the chance to attend a memorial service and meet with some of the families of those who lost their lives, and both of us were deeply moved by their strength and resilience in the face of such unspeakable tragedy.

As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard.  It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones.  It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter.  And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in – and the world in which our children will grow up.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well.  The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers.  But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons – about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.

We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis.  And we can help them do that in their own small way – whether it’s by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.

We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us.  We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.

We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families.  We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.

Christina Green felt that call.  She was just nine years old when she lost her life.  But she was at that store that day because she was passionate about serving others.  She had just been elected to her school’s student council, and she wanted to meet her Congresswoman and learn more about politics and public life.

And that’s something else we can do for our children – we can tell them about Christina and about how much she wanted to give back.  We can tell them about John Roll, a judge with a reputation for fairness; about Dorothy Morris, a devoted wife to her husband, her high school sweetheart, to whom she’d been married for 55 years; about Phyllis Schneck, a great-grandmother who sewed aprons for church fundraisers; about Dorwan Stoddard, a retired construction worker who helped neighbors down on their luck; and about Gabe Zimmerman, who did community outreach for Congresswoman Giffords, working tirelessly to help folks who were struggling, and was engaged to be married next year.  We can tell them about the brave men and women who risked their lives that day to save others.  And we can work together to honor their legacy by following their example – by embracing our fellow citizens; by standing up for what we believe is right; and by doing our part, however we can, to serve our communities and our country.


Michelle Obama

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That was a wonderful heartfelt letter and I would expect no less from the First Lady. She is a class act all the way, as is the President. I just worry that our friends on the right have not learned much from this tragedy


What an amazing open letter! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Michelle Obama exhibits the same thoughtfulness that her hubby does – they’re great parents!


Thank you for posting this bito otherwise I might have missed it. A mother’s love is a treasure we find it hard to live without. Her deep love for her family is something that makes her, and other mothers like her very special in my eyes. It is a beautiful and heartfelt testament to who she is, others could learn from her example.


I was fifteen when a classmate was murdered. She wasn’t a friend of mine, but an acquaintance and someone well-liked by everyone. I will never forget where I was when I heard it or how I felt upon hearing the news.

Shock, of course, real disbelief and horror. And also I was somewhat traumatized for several months. She had come home from school to find an intruder who raped and killed her. I became fearful. Hyper-alert. Even her photo in the newspaper the next day looked scary to me–in the way photos back in the day were very grainy and too high-contrast. Unnatural. (Does anyone know of that famous photo of the Black Dahlia? No, I’m not that old, but it looked like that.) As a murder victim, she herself became frightening to me–at least her picture did.

So this letter to parents is important. Not only for the children in Tucson who might have known Christina, but to other kids who will hear of it. And also, by telling kids about the lives of the dead, maybe children will absorb the idea of what it means to be in a community. Good Job, dear First Lady!


Barack, Sasha and Malia are fortunate to have her in their lives, b’ito.