1:00am

Mon January 9, 2012
Around the Nation

Tucson Remembers Tragic Shooting 1 Year Ago

Originally published on Mon January 9, 2012 3:27 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Last night in Tucson, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords made a rare public appearance at a vigil marking the anniversary of the shooting there last year. Giffords was shot in the head, a dozen others were wounded and six people were killed.

NPR's Ted Robbins attended a weekend of memorial events.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS)

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: People all over Tucson rang bells Sunday morning, at 11 minutes past 10, the time of the shooting one year ago. Kim Nutbrown and her daughter, Heather, rang their bells at the Safeway supermarket where the gunman opened fire. They remember the chaos of that day.

KIM NUTBROWN: It was horrific. You didn't know how many people. You didn't know if they had caught him. And...

HEATHER NUTBROWN: You didn't know if it was a family member or some friend. We came here after it happened and we felt like we needed to come here again.

ROBBINS: All day Sunday, as they did after the shooting, people left candles and flowers on the pavement still pockmarked by the gunshots. Across town, about 500 people gathered at the University of Arizona's Centennial Hall to remember those who died and were wounded.

Serenity Hammrich spoke about her best friend, nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green.

SERENITY HAMMRICH: I was really sad when we lost Christina. I know she is in heaven watching me right now saying, Serenity, don't cry. I'm doing fine, really. I want you to stay strong and continue with your life. I want you to have a great future.

ROBBINS: An hour later, just after sunset on a cold Tucson night, thousands of people gathered on the University of Arizona Mall. Some sat, some stood...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROBBINS: ...all of them cheered when Gabby Giffords stepped on stage. She walked slowly but steadily, tightly holding her husband Mark Kelly's hand.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROBBINS: Giffords and Kelly then led the crowd in the "Pledge of Allegiance."

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD RECITING "THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE")

CROWD: I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROBBINS: Nineteen tall votive candles sat on a table on stage. One by one, starting with Giffords, the wounded and the families of the dead lit the candles. The audience had been given glow sticks. Once the candles were lit, everyone activated their glow stick and slowly waved it.

Mark Kelly spoke about the past year, the pain of letting go of dreams for the future and of the unpredictability of life.

CAPTAIN MARK KELLY: The closest dearest people we know can be taken from us in an instant. And yet, the sun still rises over the Rincon Mountains each and every morning. Tucson remains a great city.

ROBBINS: The Tucson Symphony and the band Calexico then played one of Gabby Giffords favorite songs "Crystal Frontier."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRYSTAL FRONTIER")

CALEXICO: (Singing) ...on the pain now, for Crystal Frontier...

ROBBINS: And as Gabby Giffords smiled, swayed, sang and tapped her feet, it felt as though there'd been enough sadness for one weekend. The crowd stood and clapped and rocked with her.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "CRYSTAL FRONTIER")

CALEXICO: We love you, Gabby.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ROBBINS: Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "CRYSTAL FRONTIER")

CALEXICO: Let's hear you, Tucson. Come on.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND CLAPPING)

GREENE: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Related program: