Gabrielle Giffords, Tucson Prepare for Anniversary of Shooting
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords plans to attend a vigil Sunday in honor of the victims and survivors of last year’s Tucson, Ariz., shooting, which claimed six lives and critically injured the Arizona Democrat.
The Jan. 8, 2011, shooting took place shortly after 10 a.m. Arizona time in front of a Safeway where Giffords and her staff were hosting a meet-and-greet with constituents. The shooter, alleged to be 23-year-old Jared Loughner, was targeting the Congresswoman, who was critically injured, but he also shot 18 others that morning. Six died.
Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, will participate in Sunday evening’s ceremony, which will be held on the University of Arizona’s campus mall. Her office did not know whether she is planning to speak at the event.
Other participants slated to attend include Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of the division of trauma, critical care and emergency surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center. Rhee treated Giffords and the other victims of the shooting.
The ceremony will feature the Tucson Symphony Orchestra performing with one of Giffords’ favorite bands, the Tucson-based Calexico. Apparently, when Kelly was flying in the space shuttle, Giffords often chose Calexico as his wake-up music.
Giffords has asked that the TSO and the band play one of her favorite Calexico tracks, “Crystal Frontier.”
Vigil participants have been asked not to bring candles to the Sunday ceremony. Glow sticks will be provided.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is planning to attend the vigil. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a close friend of the Congresswoman and a Tucson native, will speak at an event honoring the victims earlier in the day.
Sunday’s ceremony will close a week of events and tributes to the victims of the shooting, including an intimate ceremony Wednesday to dedicate the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead southeast of Tucson. The trailhead is a gateway to the larger Arizona Trail.
Zimmerman was Giffords’ 30-year-old aide who was killed in the attack.
The Zimmerman ceremony, characterized by Giffords’ spokesman Mark Kimble “as exceptionally moving,” was attended by 150 people, including his family, friends and co-workers.
Kimble said the trailhead was a place that Zimmerman, an avid outdoorsman, and his family had visited in the past. It includes a memorial path, a meditation area and plaque with a poem penned by Zimmerman when he was 10, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Over the past year, the Zimmerman family and the Giffords office have remained close. Kimble said Zimmerman’s father, Ross, visits Giffords’ district office weekly.
“We’re still very close with them,” Kimble said. The Zimmerman family started a group called Beyond-Tucson just after the shootings. Beyond-Tucson has grown into a broad coalition of groups around southern Arizona.
“They’ve really channeled their energies in making something good come out of this,” Kimble added.