If you’ve been following the news at all lately, then you must be aware of the horrific events that took place this past Saturday morning, during an otherwise peaceful event featuring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona.
Around 10:11 a.m., a young gunman opened fire on Rep. Giffords and shot about 20 people who were attending a “Congress On Your Corner” event. Six people were killed, others wounded, and the Congresswoman remains in critical condition in the hospital.
Yesterday (Jan. 12), President Obama and the entire nation honored those lost in the tragic shooting at a memorial service at the University of Arizona campus in Tucson at an event titled “Together We Thrive: Tucson & America.”
The one-year anniversary of yet another harrowing event was unfortunately overshadowed by last night’s ceremonies, that of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti that killed many, injured many, and displaced many.
Sadly, news reports on major news networks showed us that not much has changed for the better in Haiti, where much of the capital of Port-au-Prince was ravaged on Jan. 12, 2010. But for all the tragedy and loss, it seems there is a glimmer of hope for both the Haitians and the now grieving Arizonans.
While many criticized the gradual removal of Haiti from the public eye in the past few months, despite their persistent state of chaos and desperation, yesterday’s level of news coverage showing Haiti “one year later” offers hope to all those concerned that America, and indeed, the world, is ready to forget this impoverished, unlucky nation.
Indeed, the American Red Cross Web site’s home page is currently teeming with information on how people can contribute to Haitian relief efforts, and includes videos and summaries of how they are coping after the first year.
Meanwhile, the massacre in Tucson raised some very provocative questions as to just how much needs to be done to ensure the safety of our public servants and their supporters during public events. Among the six that were shot dead, a nine-year-old girl, Christina Taylor Green, could not be saved. The news that a young, grade-school-age child was among the casualties invoked a metaphorical gasp that was heard around the country.
But, as Pres. Obama’s words underscored last night, we must do everything possible to ensure that at least something good comes out of all this. The tragedy has given us all pause to reflect on how we relate to each other and how we address our differences. The President spoke about how we can engage in a “more civil discourse” with one another.
Toward the end, using little Christina as an example, who died yearning to be part of this very discourse, the President uttered encouraging words about shaping America to be the America Christina might have envisioned. “I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it,” he said.
So, how do we deal with the aftermath of both disasters, one man-made, another nature-made, which will no doubt continue to haunt us for some time?
Well, we can start by highlighting that which is good about people, as was witnessed during last night’s ceremony when both America’s leaders and civilians eulogized and honored true heroes, those who saved lives, and others who gave their lives.
We start by sharing the stories of tragedies like the earthquake in Haiti, where people are still struggling to rebuild their lives, and make do with what they have left.
We begin by honoring, remembering, and resolving never to forget.
To contribute to American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti, please click here.
To contribute in memory or in honor of one of the victims of the Tucson shooting, please click here.