January 8 vigil marks new beginning
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - A night of reflection and remembrance ends on a positive note after thousands gathered for a vigil to honor the one year anniversary of the January 8 shooting. During one of the evening's highlights, Representative Gabrielle Giffords led the public in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Family members and friends of shooting victims lit 19 candles to represent everyone killed or wounded in the Tucson tragedy. Accompanied by the sounds of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, shooting victim and congressional employee Ron Barber hosted an emotional night to remember.
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennet set the tone for unity as he held back tears, describing the recent birth of his grandson and his trip to the NICU to see him.
"As I watched the wires and the tubes I never once thought to even think nor ask what political party or religion
or sexual persuasion or anything of the nurses and doctors that were attending him," he said, emphasizing the universal feeling that comes from having a loved one in need.
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild spoke of a united Tucson one year after a tragic event, coming out of it stronger than before.
"Tucson is all of us who lit candles and sent letters of comfort and hope," he said, "and Tucson is all of us who have worked a year to create a more civil future and a stronger city."
Giffords' husband astronaut Mark Kelly recalled the painful day that brought Tucson together.
"For the past year we've had new realities to live with. The reality and pain of letting go of the past," he said, "There is also the pain of knowing that with adequate mental health intervention and treatment that we may not be here tonight."
But along with a sense of grief and loss as thousands remembered those who lost their lives or loved ones, came a sense of hope. The crowd sang along to an upbeat rhythm of Calexico as Gabby Giffords swayed along in her chair. They gathered to see her off, cheering as she exited the campus. For thousands of Tucsonans, one year later marks a new beginning.