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Giffords, others to mark anniversary of shooting
Events planned in Tucson for survivors of rampage
Question of the Day
TUCSON, Ariz. — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, other survivors of the Tucson shooting rampage and numerous others will come together in the close-knit southern Arizona city on Jan. 8 to commemorate the one-year mark of that tragic day and remember those who died.
A number of events are planned that Sunday, although it remained unclear Thursday which Ms. Giffords will attend or whether she will make any public statements.
Other survivors of the shooting, including Ms. Giffords' staffers Ron Barber and Pam Simon, plan on going to every event that they can. Others, such as 76-year-old survivor Mavy Stoddard, whose husband died shielding her from bullets, plan on staying home with loved ones who will help them get through the emotional day.
"The whole weekend of the anniversary, I think is going to be tough," Mr. Barber said recently during an interview in Ms. Giffords' Tucson office.
Mr. Barber was shot in the cheek and thigh during the shooting, which killed six and injured 13, including Ms. Giffords. The congresswoman survived a gunshot wound to the head and has been undergoing extensive physical and speech therapy in Houston for the past year.
Mr. Barber still walks with a cane, meets with a therapist and is working on a part-time basis because of fatigue.
Mr. Barber has been reliving the terrible moments of the shooting in nightmares and flashbacks as he helps plan events marking the day, which he envisions as a time of togetherness and healing for Tucson.
"This wasn't just an emotional wound for those of us who were there, but our entire community was shocked — a lot of people still cry when they see me," Mr. Barber said. "We're bringing the community together in a way that they came together [after the shooting]."
In the weeks after the tragedy, Tucson residents turned out in droves to contribute to memorials at Ms. Giffords' office, the hospital where survivors were treated and in front of the grocery store where the shooting happened. All of the people wounded that day said their neighbors brought them food that kept them fed for two months.
"This community really rallied around itself and us," Mr. Barber said. "And I know the congresswoman wants to be here to be a part of that."
Mrs. Simon said she feels a responsibility to go to all the events planned for Jan. 8, partially because her colleague and friend Gabe Zimmerman and others who were there for Ms. Giffords that day were killed.
"I've felt this way from moment one, since I was one of the staff members that could be there, although it's emotionally tough sometimes," she said. "But people got wounded when they came to see Gabby, and as one of her staff it's very, very important for me to be there for the community. It's a privilege and an honor."
The events planned include a communitywide ringing of bells at churches and by people throughout the city at 10:11 a.m., the exact time the shooting broke out, an interfaith service at St. Augustine Cathedral where people of all religions are invited to pray and reflect, and a series of talks reflecting the lives of Ms. Giffords and the six people killed in the shooting.
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