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President Obama speaks at memorial service for five Dallas officers killed in ambush

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Speaking at the memorial service for five slain officers in Dallas, U.S. President Barack Obama praised police for protecting and serving the people.

DALLAS, Texas – For five days, the news has revolved around the horrific details of the slayings, but for a brief spell Tuesday afternoon the focus was on the men in blue who lost their lives keeping watch over what had been a peaceful protest.

  • Brent Thompson, 43, a newlywed
  • Lorne Ahrens, 48, whose smile was regularly reciprocated
  • Patrick Zamarripa, 32, a father
  • Michael Krol, 40, whose lifelong dream was to become a police officer
  • Michael Smith, 55, the Army Ranger and family man

Their deaths came amid a tragic week for the nation that saw Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota killed during encounters with police.

The Dallas officers were fatally gunned down Thursday by a sniper, an armed-to-the-teeth Army veteran who targeted the officers, perhaps as retribution for police violence largely unrelated to north Texas. Police are still working to nail down an exact motive.

President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama spoke at the ceremony in a rare joint appearance.

During Obama’s speech, he warned that a week of violence and racial tension exposed the deepest fault lines in American democracy, but urged Americans not to despair because the nation would overcome its divides.

“I understand, I understand how Americans are feeling,” Obama said at an interfaith service for five police officers gunned down in Dallas last week.

The President told relatives of those killed and law enforcement and community leaders that the events of last week had exposed the “deepest fault lines of our democracy” and even widened them.

But he insisted: “We are not as divided as we seem. I know that because I know America.”

Obama said that police officers in Dallas and around the country had embraced their profession that came with risks like no other.

“From the moment you put on that uniform you have answered a call that at any moment, even in the briefest interaction, may put your life in harm’s way,” Obama said, but also mentioned how many African American communities believed they were treated unfairly by police.

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