A permanent memorial is planned for downtown Tucson in remembrance of the 2011 mass shooting that left six people dead and injured 13 others, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, organizers said Monday.
The proposed exhibit at the Old Pima County Courthouse, once it is renovated over the next few years, would feature displays of items, including letters, candles and American flags that were placed in storage after forming makeshift memorials across the city in the days after the Jan. 8, 2011, attack, said Stephen Brigham, president of the January 8 Memorial Foundation.
An accompanying outdoor memorial site is proposed for an adjacent park. Both first would need approval by city and county officials to designate the spaces.
“It’s a great opportunity to make something very positive out of something that was a horrific tragedy,” Brigham said.
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, who was among those wounded outside a supermarket where Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents, said it will “remind the world what happened here.”
“But more importantly,” he added, “what happened afterward: the kindness, the caring and love that came forward. And you will see that when you look at the archives, it represents Tucson at its very, very best.”
Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced in November 2012 to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges in the shooting.
Giffords was shot once in the head. The Arizona Democrat later resigned from Congress as she continues to recover from her injuries.
Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, went on to found Americans for Responsible Solutions, a political action committee aimed rivaling the powerful pro-gun lobby and, according to their website, “stand up for both the 2nd amendment and safer communities.”
The third anniversary of the attack will be marked Wednesday with bell-ringing, flag-raising ceremonies and church events.
“Tucsonans will never forget that day,” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said. “But it is more important that we never forget the victims. Those we lost contributed greatly to this community and are greatly missed.”