President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama led the nation in a moment of silence Monday morning, bowing their heads in honor of the victims of Saturday's mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz.
Appearing somber and dressed for the January chill, the first couple emerged from the White House at 10:59. As a bell chimed and photographers' camera shutters clicked and whirred, the president and his wife stood silently for a full minute before turning and reentering the White House.
Not far away, the Capitol steps were thronged by members of Congress, their staffs and others, who joined in the moment of silence.
In a statement posted on the White House website
Sunday, the president said the moment of silence "will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart."
Speaker of the House John Boehner followed suit Monday morning, directing all members of Congress to stand on the House side of the Capitol and House Office Buildings at the same hour.
Obama also signed a proclamation over the weekend calling for flags to be flown at half-staff. And the White House said the president's planned trip to Schenectady, N.Y., on Tuesday -- where he was scheduled to visit the General Electric energy division -- has been postponed in the wake of the tragedy.
Six people were killed and 14 wounded -- including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) -- at a shopping center in Tucson. Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents when Jared Loughner, 22, allegedly shot Giffords in the head before spraying gunfire at others nearby. He was later subdued while attempting to reload his weapon and has been charged with multiple federal counts, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress.
In commenting Saturday on the shootings, the president said that Giffords was "doing what she always does -- listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country."
The Washington Post
reported that Obama is considering traveling to Arizona in the days ahead to show support for and solidarity with those affected by the tragedy. His advisers also told the paper that the president might weave the shootings into his State of the Union address, scheduled for Jan. 25, or make a separate speech on the matter.