Thursday, January 13, 2011

Memorial to honor youngest victim of Arizona mass shootings

Tucson, Arizona (AP) -- A memorial on Thursday will honor the youngest victim of the Arizona mass shooting, a 9-year-old dancer and swimmer whose untimely death has broken hearts nationwide.

Six people were killed and 13 others wounded when a gunman opened fire Saturday at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' meet-and-greet event in Tucson. Giffords was among the injured.

The youngest victim, Christina Green, was born on September 11, 2001. Christina had just been elected to the student council at her elementary school, and was attending the event with a neighbor. She was there to meet the lawmaker when the gunman struck.

The neighbor, Suzi Hileman, was shot three times and is recovering, but is struggling emotionally with the girl's death, relatives said.
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Christina entered the world "on a tragic day and she went out on a tragic day," said her father, John Green. "There's going to be a lot of those kind of moments that -- I had one this morning, just waking up. She comes up and says, 'Daddy, it's time to get up.' She didn't do that this morning."

Obama eulogized the victims at a service at the University of of Arizona Wednesday night. He paid special attention to the young girl whose life was cut short.

"In Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic, so full of magic. So deserving of our love. And so deserving of our good example," Obama said.

"Christina was an A student; she was a dancer; she was a gymnast; she was a swimmer. She decided that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the Major Leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her."

The president said she had a unique appreciation for life.

"She'd remind her mother, 'We are so blessed. We have the best life,' " the president said. "And she'd pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate."

Obama urged the crowd to remember those who survived.

"Our hearts are broken -- and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness," the president said. "Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman."

Suspect Jared Loughner allegedly fired at the lawmaker first, striking her in the head.

For Christina's memorial, two fire trucks will raise their ladders and connect a U.S. flag that was nearly destroyed in the 2001 terror attacks in New York City. The flag will form an arch-like design, under which her family will walk before entering church.

The controversial Westboro Baptist Church initially vowed to picket the young girl's funeral, but later said it would not after it got an offer for 30 minutes of airtime on a radio program.

Other victims killed in the shooting are Dorwan Stoddard, 76; Dorothy Morris, 76; Phyllis Schneck, 79; U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; and Gabriel "Gabe" Zimmerman, 30.

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