A memorial of ribbons, stuffed animals and flowers grew steadily Monday for the youngest victim of the weekend shooting spree, a third-grader whose patriotism was inspired by a national tragedy on the day she was born — Sept. 11, 2001.
Those who knew Christina Taylor Green said the precocious 9-year-old’s interest in government was the reason she attended the event Saturday that left five others dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gravely wounded.
“She was all about helping people and being involved. It’s so tragic,” her mother, Roxanna Green, told the Arizona Daily Star. “She went to learn … and then someone with so much hatred in their heart took the lives of innocent people.”
Stuffed bears and ribbons — pink, lavender, yellow — were tied to a chain-link fence Monday outside Mesa Verde Elementary School, where Christina had only recently been elected to the student council.
Candles, signed cards and a wooden cross with the words “Christina” and “Hope” lay against the fence; a baseball cap with the message “We will miss you Christina” was tied with a yellow ribbon. Nearby, students hugged one another, some weeping, as they left flowers and handwritten messages.
With tears welling up in her eyes, Amanda Stinnett recalled Christina as a sweet girl who sometimes played with her own two children and often greeted her with a “Hi, Mrs. Stinnett.”
“She’d always be smiling,” she said. “My youngest said ‘She was so nice Mommy. She always let me play with her,” Stinnett said. At the same time, she said Christina seemed mature for her age and with a sharp vocabulary.
“It seemed like she was a grown adult,” Stinnett said.
Standing beneath a waving American flag lowered to half-staff, Associate Superintendent Todd Jaeger said the goal Monday was to keep things as normal as possible for students.
Teachers met with a team of psychologists to discuss how to talk to the children about Christina’s death.
“One of the things we know is that we have to be honest with kids and answer their questions,” he said. “We need to answer those questions without adding to their angst.”
Christina enjoyed swimming with her 11-year-old brother Dallas and loved animals, singing, dancing and gymnastics, her mother said. She also had hopes of being the first woman to play major league baseball.
Christina was featured in a book called “Faces of Hope” that chronicled one baby from each state born on the day terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people.
The author, Christine Naman of Monroeville, Pa., said the fact that Christina was linked to both events was “particularly tragic.”
“I can’t believe how a beautiful young life was taken in such an awful, awful way,” Naman said.
The girl had told her parents she wanted to attend Penn State and have a career that involved helping those less fortunate.
She was the only girl on her Canyon del Oro Little League baseball team and played second base. John Green said his daughter wanted to be the first woman to play major league baseball.
The game was in her blood. Her dad is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and her grandfather, former big league pitcher Dallas Green, managed the 1980 world champion Philadelphia Phillies.
“She was a strong girl, a very good athlete,” Roxanna Green told the newspaper. “She was interested in everything. She got a guitar for Christmas so her next thing was learning to play guitar.”
John Green recalled making his daughter an omelet with bacon and cheese for breakfast Saturday morning and kissing her goodbye as a neighbor took her to the event to meet Giffords.
Hours later, Green was at University Medical Center with his wife and son, with a doctor telling them the girl he called “Princess” was dead from a gunshot wound to the chest.
The unidentified neighbor was shot four times but survived and is recovering from surgery.
Associated Press writer Carson Walker in Phoenix contributed to this report.