Letters To Tucson, One Year After The Shooting

Sunday is the first anniversary of the shootings in Tucson where 13 people were injured and six killed. NPR's State of the Re:Union asked people who were there that day and relatives of victims to write letters to their city in the aftermath.

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(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE OF PEOPLE SAYING "DEAR TUCSON")

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's been a year since a gunman opened fire at a Tucson grocery store. Six people were killed and 13 injured, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords. NPR's State of the Re:Union asked people who were present that day at the shooting to write letters to Tucson, reflecting on their city and the year since the tragedy.

RON BARBER: Unlike most places, Tucson is green in the dead of winter.

SUZI HILEMAN: The bright, beautiful crisp Saturday morning that was January 8, 2011.

ROSS ZIMMERMAN: Shots broke the morning calm.

PATRICIA MAISCH: I was shot while holding my 9-year-old friend's hand. She's dead and I am here. Christina Taylor and I were waiting to shake our congresswoman's hand. We went from thrilled to damaged in an instant.

ZIMMERMAN: We lost dear friends, a talented child, a caring judge and my beloved colleague.

BARBER: Tucson has become a much lonelier place for me.

PAMELA SIMON: When I pull into my garage, I faced a large cardboard sign. It says Tucson, then a red heart and then the scrolled word Pam. Tucson loves Pam.

MAISCH: I had thought that I would be anonymous. I was not. I was noticed, marveled at. I was hugged and prayed over and smiled at and my hand was shaken, my shoulder touched, my knee patted. And it's still going on today.

SIMON: In the year that followed, I, like you, have lived under a cloud of grief.

ZIMMERMAN: I love and will always remember Gabe but he'll never return. I love this place but that's not sufficient. A shadow lies across my home.

HILEMAN: Remember them. Keep them close.

SIMON: In the most difficult moments, you sent me a sunset, the smell of the desert after a rainstorm, mariachi music and the peace of a Sabino Canyon walk. Tucson, you wrap me in your arms during an inconceivable time.

MAISCH: I love you, Tucson, just as much as you love me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: These letters were written and read by Ron Barber, Suzi Hileman, Patricia Maisch, Pamela Simon and Ross Zimmerman. This story was produced by Tina Antolini and Laura Starecheski of NPR's State of the Re:Union.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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