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The Tucson Shooting: A Solemn Remembrance


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Bell ring out across Tucson, Arizona today, marking the exact moment one year ago when a gunman opened fire outside a Safeway grocery store. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was holding a Congress on Your Corner event. She was shot in the head; 18 others were hit too - six died. NPR's southwest correspondent Ted Robbins is in Tucson. Ted, besides the bell ringing, tell us what other types of memorial observances are happening today.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: The day's two major events after that are a memorial at Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus. People are going to speak about the victims. In one case, one of the wounded, Giffords' District Office Director Ron Barber is going to speak about Dorwin Stoddard, a gentleman who was killed at the Safeway when he went to meet Giffords. A couple of school friends of nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green who was also killed are going to speak about her - that should be emotional. Then the day's coming to an end with a candlelight vigil outside on the mall at the University of Arizona. And Gabby Giffords will be there.

MARTIN: And Giffords' survival and recovery have really been a huge part of this story. Will she have a role in today's events?

ROBBINS: She is not scheduled to speak. Her husband Mark Kelly will. This is the first time Giffords will be at an open public event in Tucson since the shooting. On other trips back home from her rehab in Houston, she has spent time with friends and family and staff, and that's what she's done this weekend we've been told. On Friday, she was at her office in Tucson for a ceremony unveiling a memorial to Gabe Zimmerman, her young outreach director who was killed. So, now visitors to her office will see a plaque and a life-size photograph of Zimmerman.

MARTIN: We did mention memorial services today, but this has been a weekend full of events marking this anniversary. What else has been going on and what's the mood been like at these events?

ROBBINS: Well, yesterday there was a day-long event called Beyond Tucson. And it was sort of an inoculation before today's more solemn events. It was outdoors with runs and bike rides and arts and crafts projects. The idea was actually Ross Zimmerman's, Gabe Zimmerman's dad. And it centered on being outdoors and being healthy through physical activity. It was a bright sunny day in Tucson. And we caught up with Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, and here he is.

MAYOR JONATHAN ROTHSCHILD: The fact that we came together so quickly around the ideas of respect, civility, tolerance, to set this shooter aside is an anomaly as to what our community is. It's been great. So, it's not like the events of last January have ever left the community. We've been working through it for the whole year. I mean, I haven't seen Gabby for a whole year. I'm really looking forward just giving her a hug. And I think the whole community's, in its own way, looking forward to that.

MARTIN: Ted, you have lived in Tucson for many years, and the shooting took place not far from you. You've covered the aftermath, the legal proceedings from the accused gunman Jared Loughner, the recovery of Congresswoman Giffords. I'm wondering if you could share some reflections that you've had on how all this has affected your community.

ROBBINS: Sure, Rachel. I covered Gabby Giffords before the shooting - of course, she was in Congress and she represents a district which borders Mexico. But one thing I noticed after she got shot was that almost everyone I talked with knew her or met her. It was like two degrees of separation at most. She's a gregarious person, and like she has said, she is not called Gabby for nothing. The day of the shooting she was out meeting people. So that, and the fact that so many others were shot out in public really made it a tragedy the whole community has suffered. Everyone has followed the events of the last year closely, and now the anniversary, I think, is bringing it all back again, which is emotional. It also seems as though, as the mayor said, people are using the anniversary to talk again about civility and respect, which is the same response the community had last year.

MARTIN: NPR's Ted Robbins in Tucson, Arizona. Ted, thanks so much.

ROBBINS: It's good to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.