President Barack Obama cited the global response to the earthquake in Haiti this morning while calling for greater civility in public discourse.
"Last month, God’s grace, God’s mercy, seemed far away from our neighbors in Haiti," he said. "And yet I believe that grace was not absent in the midst of tragedy. It was heard in prayers and hymns that broke the silence of an earthquake’s wake. It was witnessed among parishioners of churches that stood no more, a roadside congregation, holding bibles in their laps. It was felt in the presence of relief workers and medics; translators; servicemen and women, bringing water and food and aid to the injured.
"One such translator was an American of Haitian descent, representative of the extraordinary work that our men and women in uniform do all around the world — Navy Corpsman Christian Brossard," Obama said. "Lying on a gurney aboard the USNS Comfort, a woman asked Christopher: 'Where do you come from? What country? After my operation,' she said, 'I will pray for that country.' And in Creole, Corpsman Brossard responded, 'Etazini.' The United States of America.
"God’s grace, and the compassion and decency of the American people is expressed through the men and women like Corpsman Brossard. It’s expressed through the efforts of our Armed Forces, through the efforts of our entire government, through similar efforts from Spain and other countries around the world. It’s also, as Secretary Clinton said, expressed through multiple faith-based efforts. By evangelicals at World Relief. By the American Jewish World Service. By Hindu temples, and mainline Protestants, Catholic Relief Services, African American churches, the United Sikhs. By Americans of every faith, and no faith, uniting around a common purpose, a higher purpose.
"It’s inspiring. This is what we do, as Americans, in times of trouble. We unite, recognizing that such crises call on all of us to act, recognizing that there but for the grace of God go I, recognizing that life’s most sacred responsibility — one affirmed, as Hillary said, by all of the world’s great religions — is to sacrifice something of ourselves for a person in need."