Sunday, January 8, 2012

Remembering 1.8.11

1 year ago today, a man (otherwise known as Jared Loughner) went on a shooting rampage outside the Safeway at Oracle & Ina (in Tucson, AZ for those of you who don't know) during a Congress on your Corner event Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was holding. He killed 6 people, including a 9 year old girl, and wounded 19 others including Congresswoman Giffords. The shooting shook Tucson. Right away our entire community pulled together. Holding candelight vigils, sending cards, prayer etc. It is now one year later, and while some people have probably forgot about the shooting, those of us in Tucson haven't. For many of us, driving by the Safeway on Oracle & Ina still reminds us of what happened there one year ago. And seeing Gabrielle Giffords brings back the memories as well. I know it still reminds me when I drive by it. But while this first anniversary may bring mourning for some, it brings hope for so many others.

A lot of us still remember where we were when we first heard the news of the shooting. This is my story: "It was shortly after 10AM when I first heard the news. I was sitting in a car with my uncle, my mom & my sister. We had just left our house about 10 minutes before to go visit my great grandparents. We were driving down Prince close to Oracle when we saw so many first responders flying down Oracle towards Ina. Around that same time the news came over the radio that there had been a shooting at Safeway, minutes later we heard the news that the Congresswoman may have been shot. As soon as we got to my great grandparents we put the news on (which to those of you who don't live in Tucson, the news was pretty much on all day on the local channels following the shooting.) We started seeing pictures and live coverage of what was happening. And about an hour and a half later we got the confirmation that Congresswoman Giffords was shot and being operated on at UMC. Lets just say, that day there wasn't much talking except for the shooting in my family. We were glued to the TV screens getting the latest updates on it. Honestly, in the first few hours, even first few days we weren't sure Congresswoman Giffords was going to make it. I mean, she got shot in the head at point blank range, she had a very hard fight ahead of her. For days after there was still continuous coverage of the shooting, more vigils being held, the lawns outside of UMC & the Congresswoman's headquarters were being filled with cards, candles, flowers, pictures, everything... The shooting shook our community and brought us all together. Days later as many of you may know, the Tucson Together event was held. I wanted to go to it (as did one of my friends) but the friend we were gonna ask for a ride ended up ditching school early than we planned to, to go downtown and wait. So we didn't go but I for sure was glued to the live coverage of it that night. The shooting had an effect on me for weeks after that. The Student Council at my school started selling the bracelets (Pictured above) to raise money for the victims. I bought 4 of them from one of my best friends (who happens to be in Student Council) for my family and me."

I still have and wear that bracelet to this day. In fact its sitting right in front of me as I type this. Its a year later, a while most of the wounded have healed from their wounds (physically speaking) there is still one who we know has not. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She is in rehabilitation in Houston still recovering from the events that happened a year ago today. Though she has brought hope to all of us, she has gone from laying in a hospital bed fighting for her life, to walking, speaking and slowly recovering from this. Just tonight I watched the coverage of the Candlelight ceremony at the University of Arizona and watched the Congresswoman lead everyone in the pledge of allegiance (pictured above). She did it so well, word for word, not even stumbling over the words. She did it perfect. Seeing Gabrielle Giffords recovering, even though its taking time, gives me hope. I hope that one day in the future, she will be able to go back to work, proudly representing us citizens of district 8. (Yes, for those of you who havent guessed it yet Gabrielle Giffords is my Congresswoman).

Today I got the pleasure of hearing one of the survivors and his wife speak at my church. The man got shot twice, once in the right leg, and once in his upper right chest near the shoulder. He talked about his recalling of the shooting, how just recently he met the paramedic who worked on him, Dr. Rhee (UMC), Meeting the Obama's, Governer Brewer, and the FBI Director, and even shared a laugh with us. It was such a pleasant experience. I got to hear first hand an account of what happened and how he has been able to move on and be at peace with what happened.

On this first anniversary of the shooting we remember, not forget, those who died and those who survived but live everyday knowing they were a part of it. I pray for the families of all the victims, wounded or deceased and especially for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords that she continues to recover, and for healing for our entire community.