Last night I attended the memorial for the shooting that took place in Tucson a year ago, January 8, 2011, where 19 people were shot, among them, my Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and where sadly six good people were killed. Below you’ll find some photos I took, some thoughts from a local, and some links to some video and national stories covering this event. It is a national story. What happened in Tucson affected the ways our Representatives meet with us. The violent event was yet another bit of corrosion in the foundation of our trust in our society, in each other.
I arrived just before sunset. It wasn’t one of the more dramatic sunsets we get during storm season, but more of a Hotel California effect with the pastels and the palms.
While we waited for the program to start we were treated to rehearsals by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Choir. It was beautiful.
I ran into the nearby café to grab a cup of coffee to warm up, hey, it was 40 degrees out there! Fortuitously the new Mayor of Tucson, Jonathan Rothschild was doing the same thing and so I said hello, shook his hand and wished him luck with managing our troubled city affairs. He has a kind face, our Mayor.
After warming up a bit with the coffee I took a few more photos while there was still light. There were probably a couple of thousand people gathered on the Mall at that point. The media presence was massive.
There was indeed so much media around that someone from a major news organization decided to interview ME! I couldn’t help myself when she asked me to test the mic. I said, Mic Check! Mic Check ala Occupy. Yes, I am, in fact, a dork! I hope I didn’t ramble too much. She asked me how I felt Tucson had been changed by the event, or if it had at all. I said I thought it had, that people are more inclined to pitch in as a community now, more inclined to be involved. I’ve seen it all year in numerous public events, whether in marches against SB1070, for Cesar Chavez Day, for Occupy Tucson, for Dia de la Muertos Day. The Old Pueblo isn’t so complacent as it perhaps used to be. More people are out there doing things.
And this ultimately was the message sent to the rest of the Country with this Memorial, through all of the speakers who stepped up to the podium after Gabby came out and enthusiastically led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. I had to laugh and cry at the same time as she rang out, “With Liberty and Justice, FOR ALL!!!” Huge Gabby grin. You can see that part in the video in this link:
Giffords leads Tucson shooting anniversary remembrance
A couple of video embeds, if they work
All of these speakers, the President of the University of Arizona, Dr. Rhee from the University Medical Center, Ron Barber, Mark Kelly, Mayor Rothschild, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, all of them in their own way told us all to get involved in our communities as a way to prevent the kind of tragedy we saw here in Tucson. Dr. Rhee spoke of the senselessness of the kind of violence he has seen in Trauma both in War and at Home, and how we must counteract that senselessness. Mark Kelly address the real need for proper mental health intervention and treatment to prevent the recurrence what happened with Jared Loughner.
Ken Bennett, who came instead of Governor Jan Brewer to represent the State, spoke about spending time recently in Intensive Care with his new grandson where he came to the epiphany that it didn’t matter the politics or sexual orientation of the people caring for that child in that hospital. What mattered was the intensive care they gave. This was a big admission for a staunch Republican. After he finished speaking I was relieved that Brewer hadn’t made it. She would have been an embarrassment. Sorry, I just can’t feel the love for that lady! Her policies are counter to everything this Memorial was about. We Arizonans are going to have to keep pushing her on that front.
After the speakers there was music and the lighting of candles on stage for the Nineteen, and then we all lit our glow sticks in the audience. And then some of Calexico came on to play. It was a lovely Memorial with a great crowd of all ages and ethnicities.
Here are a few more photos I took of the big screen after dark.
Mark and Gabby
Here is a diary with photos I posted after the shooting last year: Recent Scenes from Tucson: A Photo Diary
Get involved if you aren’t already. Your community needs you, wherever it may be.