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Finding security amid insanity

"Finding security amid insanity" Continued...

Issue: "Babies are back," Jan. 29, 2011

President Barack Obama appeared to have the finger pointing in mind over the cause of the tragedy when he addressed a crowd of more than 14,000 at a Tucson memorial service Jan. 12 and chastised those looking for political enemies to blame: "If, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy. It did not," the president said.

The emotional high point of the evening came when Obama reported on his visit with Giffords earlier in the day. "Gabby opened her eyes for the first time," he said to raucous cheers and a standing ovation, adding, "She knows we are here, she knows we love her, and she knows we are rooting for her."

In Arizona there also were funeral services and impromptu prayer vigils to remember the dead, who were bipartisan, according to friends and relatives, and in many cases devoutly religious. They included U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, a conservative according to colleagues and a devoted Catholic who rarely missed Mass. He and Giffords knew each other well, so few were surprised he accepted her last-minute invitation to drop by her Saturday morning event. Roll, 63, was the chief judge of Arizona's federal courts, appointed to the federal bench in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush on the recommendation of Sen. John McCain.

Dorwan Stoddard, 76, a retired construction worker and gas station owner, was shot to death as he bent over his wife Mavy to shield her from bullets. Stoddard and his wife, who was wounded in the attack, "got into people's lives," according to Jody Nowak, wife of pastor Mike Nowak at the Stoddards' Mountain Avenue Church of Christ in Tucson. "They didn't sit on the pew and do nothing." Stoddard did maintenance at the church and the couple enjoyed delivering food and flowers to the sick and providing transportation for those unable to drive.

Perhaps the most haunting image that many Americans will recall in the tragedy is the bright, round face of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. Green, a newly elected member of the Mesa Verde Elementary School student council, accompanied a neighbor to the Giffords event so she could see government at work. Green was the only girl on her Little League baseball team, and she sang in the Joyful Noise Choir at St. Odilia Parish in Tucson, where her family attends and where she recently received her first communion. Born on Sept. 11, 2001, the young girl, according to her father John Green, "came in on a tragedy and now she's going out on a tragedy."
-with reporting by Emily Belz and Edward Lee Pitts in Washington, and Megan Basham in Tucson


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