January 8th is one of those dates. One of those terrible and increasingly common dates.
A young white man with access to a gun and who should not have had access to one, attempted to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was my Congresswoman at that time. Giffords was holding a “Congress on your corner” event where people could meet her and ask questions. Far better than a town hall, more personal. But it got way too personal. Shootings have a way of doing that. Six people killed and 13 more injured.
The shooter did assassinate John Roll, 63, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for Arizona. And he shot and killed Christina-Taylor Green, age 9. She was a lovely child from what I have heard from and read in the blog of a friend. That friend Suzi, a neighbor and surrogate Grandma of Christina-Taylor, took her to the event to meet Gabby. It was the first event in what was supposed to be a long, well planned day of fun and adventure. You can read Suzi’s post to Christina-Taylor written on the third anniversary of the shooting.
It gets personal when people are shot. I knew several of those hurt. I am friends with a couple. Had previously worked with one guy. Another was an acquaintance and a friend of a good friend. My husband was laying out a project to work with Gabby’s staffer, Gabe, who was killed.
It shocked and shook the whole community. The vigil that night at the University Hospital just down the street from me was an act of love by our town. Lines circling the campus to get into the memorial at the University and national TV… and all the pain. Our city came together as an act of love and healing.
If every person knows about 600 people, which is a fairly solid estimate of normal contacts for a single person, then over 10,000 people were directly impacted by the shooting. It is impossible to estimate the pain. The parking lot and storefront where it happened was bustling. Add more people.
The people who died were: Christina-Taylor Green, John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Dorothy “Dot” Morris, Phyllis Schneck, and Dorwan Stoddard.
Remember them and work to enact sensible gun laws. Visit these links.
I am hopeful that in the coming elections this year voters will elect people like Mark Kelly who is running for the Senate in my home state. Gabby Giffords’ husband and an astronaut — not too shabby. Smart, dedicated, and personally aware.
But in the mean time there is a commemoration ceremony today. I probably will not attend. I have mixed feelings about memorials for mass shootings. I want to remember. I want to learn. But I do not want to institutionalize violence with memorials. I do not want to detract from the healing that some people find in these memorials, but I choose to put my energy into trying to improve the flaws in our society that create the violence.
Peace and healing to us all.