- Associated Press - Thursday, January 13, 2011

TUCSON, Ariz. | The family of the youngest victim of the mass shooting in Arizona held hands and paused in a moment of silence Thursday under the large American flag recovered from ground zero after the 9/11 attacks, and later escorted the 9-year-old’s small brown casket into the church as little girls about her age cried.

Christina Taylor Green was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and featured in a book called “Faces of Hope” that chronicled one baby from each state born on the day terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people. Christina’s funeral is the first for the six victims killed when police said a gunman opened fire on a crowd at an event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, critically injuring the congresswoman and wounding 13 others.

The third-grader had an interest in politics and had recently been elected to her student council. She was the only girl on her Canyon del Oro Little League baseball team and played second base, and had told her father she wanted to become the first woman to play in the major leagues.

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The game was in her blood. Her dad is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and her grandfather, former big league pitcher Dallas Green, managed the 1980 world champion Philadelphia Phillies.

“She had the time to root for the Dodgers and the Phillies,” Bishop Gerald Kicanas said. “A little girl with the wisdom of a wise woman. She wanted to make a difference in her life. She wanted to make her mark.”

Christina’s father, John Green, spoke to the tearful crowd, including his 11-year-old son, Dallas, who wiped tears away with the sleeve of his suit. “Christina Taylor Green,” he began, “I can’t tell you how much we all miss you.”

“I think you have affected the whole country,” he said, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Billy Joel’s “Lullaby,” which begins “Goodnight, my angel, time to close your eyes,” was performed at the end.

During President Obama’s speech at a memorial Wednesday night, he spoke at length about Christina and reminded the audience that the third-grader’s neighbor had brought her to meet Mrs. Giffords because of her budding interest in democracy.

“She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted,” he said. “I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it.”

The girl had told her parents she wanted to attend Penn State and have a career that involved helping those less fortunate.

Before her funeral, cars were parked on both sides of the road, and traffic was backed up. Members of motorcycle groups from Arizona and California parked their bikes in a group. Several hundred people, many dressed in white T-shirts, stood silently along a road near the church. About 20 people were dressed as angels.

They organized over the Internet and by word of mouth, saying they wanted to be there in case members of a Kansas church showed up to protest. The Westboro Baptist Church threatened to picket the funerals for Christina and other victims, but it backed off, in part because a nationally syndicated radio show agreed to host some of its members. The church is known for protesting at the funerals of slain servicemen and blaming their deaths on the country’s tolerance of homosexuality.

As the city mourned the little girl, more details and documents surfaced about the suspect, Jared Loughner. For four years, he was an unremarkable college student, commuting to classes near his home where he studied yoga and algebra, business management and poetry.

But last year, his classroom conduct began to change. In February, Mr. Loughner stunned a teacher by talking about blowing up babies, a bizarre outburst that marked the start of a rapid unraveling for the 22-year-old. After his first flare-up, campus police decided not to intervene.

Also Thursday, a man walking his dog found a black bag holding ammunition and authorities thought it was discarded by Mr. Loughner.

Chief Rick Kastigar with the Pima County Sheriff’s Office told the AP that an 18-year-old found the bag in a neighborhood near where Mr. Loughner lives. He went to get another man, who looked inside and saw ammunition.

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