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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    One year after Jan. 8, 2011, shooting, Tucson’s spirit continues to inspire

    Tragedies mark us. Our responses to those tragedies define us.

    A year ago, a gunman opened fire in a Safeway parking lot. Eventually, Jared Loughner, who killed six people and wounded 13, became a household name. But in the chaos of that Saturday morning, the only confirmed report was that dozens of people had been at a “Congress on Your Corner” event to see Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when a man stepped forward and shot her in the head.

    By that evening, there were memorials in place at her office and on the lawn of the hospital where she and the other surviving victims were being treated. In the following days, Tucson stood vigil. That immediate outpouring of support was just the start.

    A year later, on Sunday evening, Tucson stood vigil again to honor the victims of the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting.

    A lot can change in a year.

    Little girls grow up. No one knows better than Serenity Hammrich and Jamie Stone, who said goodbye to their 9-year-old best friend, Christina-Taylor Green.

    Strangers are thrown together by chance. Anna Ballis frantically pressed down on a stranger’s wound to staunch the bleeding. The stranger turned out to be Giffords’ District Director Ron Barber, who asked Ballis to come to the hospital while he recovered, and they have remained close friends.

    Lives are ripped apart and put back together again. Early during this Sunday’s event, Barber introduced Giffords, who crossed the stage on the UA Mall wearing a bright red scarf and a wide grin. A year ago, no one was sure if she would walk or speak again. But on Sunday, with her hand over her heart, she confidently and proudly led a crowd of roughly 3,500 in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
    Some things don’t change.

    “These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the field of battle … heroism is here, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned,” President Barack Obama said last year at “Together We Thrive,” a memorial service on Jan. 12, 2011, for the shooting victims.

    Jan. 8, 2011, was an unforgettable day in Tucson. But what defines Tucson isn’t that this horrible, unthinkable thing happened. The defining part of Jan. 8 was this: Tucson’s indomitable spirit, the will to keep standing and come out better.

    The heroes aren’t just the ones who saved lives that day. Heroes are the neighbor who offered a shoulder to cry on, the counselors helping people cope and each person who reached out to another in comfort.

    While bells tolled at 10:11 a.m., the time last year’s attack began, speakers honored their loved ones. While the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s music swelled and thousands of people on the Mall raised their hands, Tucson remembered.

    The will to endure, the compassion and the kindness of a year ago haven’t changed. “Heroism is here.”

    A photo montage of all those who went to the vigil in remembrance of those we lost on Jan 8th, 2011 in Tucson, AZ can be found here.

    — Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Bethany Barnes, Kristina Bui, Steven Kwan, Luke Money and Michelle A. Monroe. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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