Gabrielle Giffords commemorates shootings; what does future hold?
Arizona both mourned and cheered on Sunday -- grieving anew the Tucson shooting victims and applauding U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who made an appearance one year after she was shot in the January 2011 rampage that traumatized the city.
In a moving appearance at the University of Arizona, Giffords led the Pledge of Allegiance -- offering an emotional culmination to a day of remembrance. Today, the media are speculating on Giffords' future.
Giffords must decide by May 30 whether she'll run for reelection. Her previous life plans -- a possible run for U.S. Senate or Arizona governor and, perhaps, motherhood -- were derailed in the tragedy of Jan. 8, 2011, when she was seriously wounded and six people died.
The Times reported in November that Giffords and husband Mark Kelly had already planned their future as parents. "We couldn't have fathomed that instead she'd be in a hospital, trying to say the names of simple objects," Mark Kelly wrote in the couple's book.
But as the Los Angeles Times reported Monday morning, Giffords was animated throughout Sunday's hourlong candlelight vigil, which wrapped up the day's events. The crowd cheered her there, even chanting her name: "Gabby, Gabby!" And President Obama sent words of praise to Giffords as well, calling her "an inspiration" to his family and "Americans across the country."
Among heartfelt Twitter messages: "Remember 1/8 ... always in our hearts #Tucson & the strength of #GabybGiffords" (tarabizzness); "Thinking of Gabrielle Giffords and all the other Tucson victims today. Bravery and courage in the face of madness. #gabbygiffords" (samanthaslater).
From Sen. John McCain: "Today we pray for and remember the victims of the tragic attack on @Rep_Giffords in #Tucson one year ago."
And Illinois Rep. Jerry Costello tweeted: "Thinking about my friend Rep. Gabby Giffords on the anniversary of the attack on her, her staff and constituents. #GabbyGiffords."
At Sunday's events, the woman who grabbed a gun magazine from the shooter after he was tackled during the rampage also stepped up to speak: "We refuse to let this tragic day define us," said Patricia Maisch, who spoke of the men who trapped the gunman and the Tucson residents who comforted the shooting victims as they lay dying.
The day of commemoration began with the ringing off bells outside the Safeway where the six people, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, were killed and 13 others were wounded.
The day before, Giffords and Kelly had visited at the Safeway for the first time since the shootings. Kelly tweeted a photo of Giffords outside the store and wrote: "Gabby remembering the parking spot she chose from Jan. 8."
-- Amy Hubbard
Photo: Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly at the candlelight vigil in Tucson on Sunday. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press