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Mourners Gather In Dallas To Remember Slain Police Officers

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Mourners gathered in Dallas today to pay respects to the five police officers killed there last week.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) Light is stronger than darkness. Life is stronger than death. Victory is ours. Victory is ours.

SHAPIRO: The officers were on duty at a peaceful protest against police violence when a lone gunman ambushed them. President Obama spoke at the service, and so did former President George W. Bush. President Bush remembered each of the fallen men represented at the service by five empty chairs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GEORGE W. BUSH: Lorne Ahrens, beloved husband to detective Katrina Ahrens and father of two; Michael Krol, caring son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend; Michael Smith, U.S. Army veteran, devoted husband and father of two; Brent Thompson, Marine Corps vet recently married; Patrick Zamarripa, U.S. Navy Reserve combat veteran, proud father and loyal Texas Rangers fan.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Obama was introduced by Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Brown described how as an awkward teenager he used to recite song lyrics to girls he liked, songs by Al Green or the Isley Brothers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHIEF DAVID BROWN: But for people I loved - If I fell in love with a girl, oh, I had to dig down deep and get some Stevie Wonder.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIEGEL: And so he addressed the families of the victims in Wonder's words.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BROWN: Change your words into truth, and then change that truth into love. And maybe your children's grandchildren and their great-great-grandchildren will tell them, I'll be loving you.

SIEGEL: When President Obama spoke next, he acknowledged the tension of this moment. He expressed support for police and recognized the difficulty of their work. But he also nodded to those in the community who feel unfairly targeted by police.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: Faced with this violence, we wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged. We wonder if an African-American community that feels unfairly targeted by police and police departments that feel unfairly maligned for doing their jobs can ever understand each other's experience.

SIEGEL: And echoing other speakers, the president called for unity.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: Today in this audience I see people who have protested on behalf of criminal justice reform grieving alongside police officers. I see people who mourn for the five officers we lost but also weep for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In this audience I see what's possible.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.