Washington, Jan 15 (Agencies): President Barack Obama on Saturday said people in the US must look at themselves as American first as he asked the Democrats and opposition Republicans to work together to meet the challenges facing the country.

By working together in a spirit of common cause, Obama in his weekly address to the nation, said that he and members of Congress can face these challenges in a way worthy of the voters who sent them to Washington.

"It's been one week since tragedy visited Tucson, Arizona," Obama said, referring to the weekend shooting that left six people dead and 14 injured, including House Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.

"We properly spent much of the week mourning the victims and remembering their lives. We also discovered stories that serve to lift us up – stories of heroism and bravery, of courage and community – stories that remind us that we are one American family, 300 million strong," he said.

"One of the places we saw that sense of community on display was on the floor of Congress, where Gabby Giffords, who inspires us with her recovery, is deeply missed by her colleagues. One by one, Representatives from all parts of the country and all points of view rose in common cause to honor Gabby and the other victims, and to reflect on our shared hopes for this country," Obama said.

"As shrill and discordant as our politics can be at times, it was a moment that reminded us of who we really are – and how much we depend on one another. While we can't escape our grief for those we've lost, we carry on now, mindful of those truths," he said.

"We carry on because we have to. After all, this is still a time of great challenges for us to solve. We've got to grow jobs faster, and forge a stronger, more competitive economy. We've got to shore up our budget, and bring down our deficits. We've got to keep our people safe, and see to it that the American Dream remains vibrant and alive for our children and grandchildren," Obama said.

"These are challenges I believe we can meet. And I believe we can do it in a way worthy of those who sent us here to serve. So as business resumes, I look forward to working together in that same spirit of common cause with members of Congress from both parties – because before we are Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans," said the US President.

"As we perform the work of this nation, my prayer is that we stay true to our words, and turn to those examples of heroism, and courage, and perseverance, to bring out the better in all of us," Obama said.