Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Candle Against the Night

A woman holds up a candle during a Jewish prayer service for Gabrielle Giffords, and other victims of the mass shooting, on the lawn at University Medical Center in Tucson Saturday night. 

I went back to Tucson today to see how people were coping after the shock of mass shooting one week ago. The initial shock has been replaced by more complex emotions. Sorrow for the families of the deceased. Hope for the survivors. Anger at the shooter. And still the question, why? A question that is mocked by the haunting smile of the alleged attacker’s “mugshot.” 
The employees of the Safeway where the shooting happened came out for a small service at 10:10AM, the exact time of the attack. Some of the employees were still so heartbroken, a week later, they couldn’t participate. The emotional scars from the attack will take far longer to heal than some of the physical ones.
Candles line the sidewalk at Gifford’s office. A steady stream of people come by to drop off cards, flowers, teddy bears and notes. 

Flowers, pictures, candles and children’s toys cover the lawn at University Medical Center, where Giffords and most of the others injured in the attack, were sent in the frantic moments after the barrage of gunshots. 
People walked quietly through the field of flowers. Some were lighting candles, others stopped to pray, some hugged, some cried. Mournful music filled the air as a man played the violin for hours, improvising.
Later a small mariachi group performed. Giffords, a native Tucsonan, is a big fan of mariachi music. Hospital staff told the musicians their playing could be heard in the Congresswoman’s room. Just before dusk the mariachi trumpeter played the “Star Spangled Banner.” People stopped what they were doing to sing along with him as he played. 
At sunset, members of Tucson’s Jewish community gathered for a religious service on the lawn. 
There are more photos from Saturday in Tucson in my archive. Saturday’s photos are also available from ZUMA Press