TUCSON, Ariz. — After a year of struggling to re-learn how to walk and speak, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords confidently climbed the steps on an outdoor stage on Sunday and led a crowd of hundreds in the Pledge of Allegiance, her words ringing out on a cold Tucson night just one year after she survived a gunshot to the head.
The remembrance at the University of Arizona culminated a day of events, some filled with sadness and regret, others with hope and joy.
Many wept at an afternoon event as two 10-year-olds remembered their best friend, Christina-Taylor Green, who was killed in the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting, along with five others.
Some danced in celebration after Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, told the crowd at the candlelight vigil that the 13 survivors who emerged from the shooting showed that “alongside human frailty there is also strength.”
And they chanted — “Gabby! Gabby! — when Giffords limped to the podium, and, after months of intensive speech therapy, recited the pledge with the audience, head held high and a smile on her face as she punched each word.
“ ... with LIBERTY and JUSTICE for ALL!” the Democratic congresswoman shouted, almost defiantly.
The day included a church service that drew hundreds in the afternoon and a citywide bell-ringing at 10:11 a.m., the exact time a gunman started shooting at a Safeway political event on Jan. 8, 2011.
Bridge to reopen
The Mississippi River bridge, which carries passengers traveling along U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 from Missouri to Illinois and ultimately Kentucky, is expected to reopen next month. The bridge, which closed on Jan. 11, 2011, and had damages sustained when vehicles exceeded the bridge’s weight limit, has an estimated 3,500 vehicles drive across it each day.
Since the closure, drives have had to detour through Cairo, Ill., and Interstate 57.
Teen of the Week
Kaitlyn Curry is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. The senior at Paducah Tilghman High School has been involved in choir for three years as well as cheerleading, soccer and tennis. Curry volunteers with First Baptist Church and the Upward Cheerleading program and also with the Hispanic ministry program at school.
In May, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners, earning a four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent or a $2,500 scholarship to another school of their choice.