A Tucson Tragedy

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Normally, additions to my blog are designed to promote information sharing on topics related to wine and to promote products my company makes available to our customers. The dialog presented contains facts, issues, product reviews, and, occasionally, a humorous antidote. I live in Tucson, Arizona. The events that took place here on January 8th, 2011 have compelled me to offer my discussion and observations of this unforgettable tragedy. Perhaps, it is my way of coping with what happened.

Regular people where seeking an interaction with their Congressional Representative, Gabby Giffords, at a local grocery store around 10 AM on a Saturday morning. In a matter of moments, a lone gunman appeared on the scene and started shooting. It did not take long before six wonderful Tucson residents lay dead and several others were gravely wounded. The news of this event traveled through Tucson like a strong spring wind, shocking the entire community. The people of Tucson did not know where to turn that morning and to some extent still struggle with the multitude of questions that grief can bring.

That day many common citizens became instant heroes. Two citizens sacrificed their lives to save another. Other citizens acted together to subdue the shooter. Many ordinary people jumped in the fray to administer life-saving aid and comfort to the injured. The police and emergency care responders shifted into high-gear, moving the wounded people to hospitals where their fight for survival continued. Emergency room doctors and nurses tirelessly applied their skills to save every life they could. The Tucson people anxiously awaited any small morsel of news on everyone’s condition. A “dark cloud” formed over the city bringing sadness to the community that will not soon dissipate. Consequently, an unprecedented community unity was developing.

Memorials to the ones fighting for their lives started to appear on a patch of grass at University Medical Center, where most of the injured were taken. In just a few days, this display of love grew into a gathering place of well-wishers. Flowers, balloons, hundreds of candles, posters and hand-written notes of respect, love and get-well wishes were placed in an altar like display on the grass. As the memorial increased in size, paths were maintained for people to use when viewing the displays. The grassy walk way became a well-worn dirt path as hundreds of citizens came to offer their prayers and condolences. That piece of hospital lawn will never be the same as it has become a shrine to this tragic event and a place where the earth is mixed with the tears of the people who came to share their grief.

Where are we now? The infamy that Tucson has achieved was never solicited by the people of the “Old Pueblo”, but is currently being kept alive as the media continues its mission to inform and report. The people who died have been appropriately honored and buried, but never will be forgotten by this community. All wounded people have survived and have an uphill road to recover, especially Gabby. The shooter has been indicted, has pleaded non-guilty, and now faces months and, perhaps, years of judicial processes. I expect the political rhetoric of how to stop a tragedy like this from happening again will begin. Unfortunately, I expect it to increase as the finger-pointing of blame begins in earnest.

Today thank fully, Gabby has been upgraded to “good” condition and has been moved to a rehabilitation center to begin her uphill battle to recovery. Meanwhile, Tucson citizens will continue forward united in a way that this city has never seen before. As the wounds heal in the bodies of the victims, the wounds in the minds of the people of our city will also heal.

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