FIRST PERSON | The day Tucson, Ariz., experienced the most horrendous shooting event in modern history, I was preparing to visit the area near Ina and Oracle Roads to do my weekly visits to the small shops that occupy the area. My last stop was to be at the busy Safeway where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords would be meeting her public. Instead I spent the time trying to cope with the tragedy that occurred in our midst.
This week, one year later, mourning and celebrations will take place that describe the emotions of the people of Tucson as the anniversary of the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting tragedy takes place. Mourning for the lives that were lost and celebrations of the numerous community memorials that have been created in their honor.
The city has responded with kindness, generosity and support for the victims, their families, and for those who quickly responded to the tragedy. The Christine Green-Taylor and David Hernandez Jr. Scholarship Funds is one example. Others include the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding and a hiking trail named in honor of Gabe Zimmerman in Davidson Canyon.
Among the activities this weekend will be the celebration to be held in Centennial Hall at the University of Arizona where the community will pay tribute to the victims. There will also be a vigil on the campus honoring the 19 people that were shot.
Living memories will continue to be created as the community continues to deal with other issues that were exposed as a result of the tragedy including behavioral health, creating anti-bullying legislation, and recognizing excellence in academics and athletics.
For those of us who will be participating in the events and memorials, there will be tears of grief and smiles as we remember those who were the victims as well as also honoring those who came to their aid, some putting their own lives in danger.
Tucson will never be the same and for me. Mourning has replaced by dedication to support the efforts being made by participating in the many opportunities to bring together members of the community in honor and memory of the victims of the tragedy that changed the city forever. At home, I will light a candle and as I watch the flame, will take it as a symbol of hope for my community.