"A Nation Grieves"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, January 22, 2011

What has become of our nation? Our president spoke for me and all fellow Americans when he represented us at the memorial service in Tucson on Jan. 13.

I felt our President made a great presentation as we all attempt to recover from the brutal attack of Jan. 8. He hailed the heroes of that day, those who tried and succeeded in ending the chaos and killing. He spoke of those who risked and gave their lives during the unbelievable carnage.

The events of that day have been foremost on the minds of Americans; many of us wept as we saw the activities unfold on the news and later learned of the horrific toll from the shooting. Most of us watched in horror as the announcements came about Congresswoman Gifford being the main target and the fact she was shot at close range in the head. The reports that she was still alive after a bullet had passed completely through her head, hitting her brain were hard to comprehend. We all wondered how that could be possible, I know I did.

Soon we were receiving updates that many more people had been shot, 19 or more. The shooter was said to have used a 9mm Glock custom hand gun, which is used by law enforcement worldwide for its rapid-fire capability. It held a magazine of over 30 rounds, with another spare magazine ready to use, but the heroes interceded and tackled him. Among those heroes was a tiny, older lady, who grabbed the magazine that had fallen on the ground.

The awful event raises many questions. Why? Why would anyone have a magazine that can hold that many shells? Most automatic firearms, especially pistols, lose accuracy after the first or second round is fired. We can only assume the shooter knew the shots would go wild after the first few. That seems like what took place.

The major news stations all sent their best reporters to Tucson, and, as the nation sat in disbelief, the news stories flowed. Most were accurate, but accounts conflicted regarding how many were injured and how many fatalities there were.

The accounts regarding Congresswoman Gifford were the most compelling and disturbing. The surgeons and other doctors, some said to be combat trained, caring for her were very truthful and willing to share news about her condition. They described how the bullet had grazed her brain then exited the skull. Chances of her survival were given as slim.

As reports continued to be aired about the aftermath of the “Congress on the Corner” assembly, news of a 9-year-old young lady being killed reached us. It was told she had become interested in politics because she had just been elected to her school’s student council. A federal judge who stopped after Mass to chat with Congresswoman Gifford, an old friend of his, was also among those killed. In all, 19 people were shot, six of them fatally.

The memorial, attended by President Barack Obama, the first lady and a host of politicians, took place in a packed arena of more than 13,000 while another 13,000 were in a nearby stadium with a live TV feed. I know just how huge the arena is because I attended my granddaughter’s college graduation in one very similar at ASU a few years ago.

Today as I write, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green was laid to rest much too soon. Her mom, dad and 11-year-old brother were in attendance. I will forever remember the picture of her posing in her ballet outfit with a radiant, beautiful smile on her face. I will forever remember our President’s words saying; “I want to live up to her expectations, I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. All of us, we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

As the memorial concluded, the television news channels turned to discussion panels to tell us just what the President had said and of course what he meant. I never understand why they have to do this; can’t we hear and comprehend ourselves? One such speaker must have watched a different service because he felt the President’s address was too political.

In the aftermath, we all have questions: Why was the troubled person still on the street? What caused him to become so violent? Why didn’t any of those interviewed who knew him not report his threatening actions? Why wasn’t he tested when he was expelled from college pending a medical and mental exam? Why were the postings on his website not reported to law enforcement? If they were, why was he not detained? We may never know the answers to any of our questions.

News reports announced that Walmart is selling the extra large capacity clips as fast as they can get them because people are afraid they will be banned from sale in Arizona. And again my questions, why would anyone need one? Why would they want one?

May those whose lives were taken rest in peace and as President Obama eloquently expressed, “If there are puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.”


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