A day of remembrance was held in Tucson Arizona on Sunday in memory of last year’s deadly shooting which claimed the lives of six and almost ended the life of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
The shooting occurred on Jan. 8, 2011 outside a Tucson Safeway Supermarket during a public meet and greet with the congresswoman. Thirteen people were injured and six were killed when 23- year- old Jared Loughner shot Giffords in the head and gunned downed several of those who came to see her.
Some of the deceased include one of Giffords’ staff members Gabe Zimmerman, federal judge John Roll, and a 9-year-old named Christina-Taylor Green, who was born on the day of the 9/11 tragedy, Sept. 11, 2001. Loughner has pleaded not guilty in the shooting and been deemed unfit mentally to serve trial. He is currently being treated at a federal prison hospital in Missouri.
According to Reuters, several memorial services were held around Arizona in memory of the victims. Nearly 200 people gathered at an Anglican Church in North Tucson near the Safeway where the shooting occurred, while around 300 gathered at St. Augustine Cathedral for a morning mass. At 10:11 a.m., the same time the first shot was fired at Giffords, church and hand-held bells rang out across the city. Bells continued when the names of the six that perished were called out.
At the memorial at Safeway, Arizonians Bruce Ellis and his wife Kelly Hardesty, cried as the bells rang out in honor of the victims.
"It's shocking to have a massacre like this occur in your backyard," Ellis said according to AP. "It's something that happens on the news, not in your neighborhood."
Giffords recited the pledge of allegiance at the University of Arizona service while the crowd chanted her name. Her husband and former astronaut, Mark Kelly had to assist her in putting her hand on her heart. Giffords made it through the speech with slight complications as she is still undergoing speech therapy. Although she has been able to vote as a congresswoman, the extent of her brain damage is still being determined.
On Saturday, Giffords made unannounced visits to the Safeway supermarket for the first time after the shooting along with other sites around the city. Other memorial services on Sunday included another service at St. Augustine Cathedral at 1 p.m., along with a 3p.m tribute at the University of Arizona's Centennial Hall.
"Even in the midst of this troubling year, the healing, the courage that we have experienced in our community - each one of us can notice how our cups overflow with the blessings of our lives," said Stephanie Aaron, Giffords' rabbi who ended the service according to AP. She recited the 23rd Psalm at an interfaith service at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sunday afternoon.