Lives changed as lives were lost five years ago today when Tucson changed forever. It was not the first time Tucson opened her arms and gathered survivors of mass gun violence to her breast to hold and heal families in her embrace.
October 29th 2002
Robin E. Rogers, Barbara Monroe, and Cheryl McGaffic, all instructors in the U of A School of Nursing were gunned down by a disturbed and failing student who also shot himself. All died. This was the first time Tucson met with a mass shooting in recent history. A student killing his instructors and professors was personally unsettling. My husband is a Professor at this same University.
January 8th 2011
A gunman attempting to assassinate U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords killed six other Tucsonans: Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy “Dot” Morris, John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, Gabriel “Gabe” Zimmerman.
13 other people were gunned down, but lived.
January 8th 2016
Five years later, today, there will be bell ringings and memorial services at a few places in Tucson. A survivor invited me to attend the bell ceremony at the university hospital down the street at 10:10 a.m. I want to attend.
This day reminds me of the precious, tenuous nature of life. My daughter is in Tucson with her fiancé and in the few days we have together while she is here, we are planning her wedding that will take place later this year. So while I cannot be at the commemoration, I write, remember and hold those who were there in the light.
No one wants to be defined by violence. No person. No community. We cannot help but be shaped by our histories. What we do and how we live in the moment, in all those precious moments of life, are how families and communities, define ourselves. We must not forget the moments that shaped us, but it is far more important that we live fully and dedicate ourselves to changing what we can so that tragic moments need not recur.
Friends as Survivors
Suzi, Mary, Jim, Ron and Gabby range from friends, to friends of friends, to acquaintances, to a Representative I’ve lobbied and met with, and protested. I, like so many other Tucsonans, have their backs and are grateful for the strength and grace they continue show as you put one foot in front of other, in some cases after having to relearn how to do so.
Our personal legacies and community legacy interweave around this unwanted anniversary. Legacy draws us together in the small town that is at the core of this large city. That legacy reaches back beyond historic times. There have been people here for thousands of years. Legacy is palpable here where cultures and histories blend into community. The community is sad but strong. Tucson grieves. Tucson heals. Together Tucson grows together into a stronger place towards a better tomorrow.